Swati Rajiv Goswami vs Commissioner Of Police, … on 17 January, 2023
Bench: Honourable Justice Biren Vaishnav
R/SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 11826 of 2020
The petitioner asked for permission to peacefully protest the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019, but the police inspector turned it down. The petitioner requested information from the Commissioner of Police (the “Respondent”) regarding the rules established under Section 33(1)(o) of the Gujarat Police Act, 1951 (the “Act”), which were used to process the petitioner’s permission. The information request was turned down. Later, the petitioner filed this Article 226 of the Indian Constitution petition in an effort to have the respondent’s rules made public under Section 33 of the Act.
The counsel of the petitioner contended that not publishing the rules and orders framed under Section 33(1) of the Act are in violation of Section 33(6) of the Act as well as Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (“RTI Act”). Section 4 imposes an obligation on a public authority to maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act
Rules made in accordance with Section 33(1) of the Act must be published in the local gazette and in the affected locality, according to Section 33(6) of the Act. The public authority is required by Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act to proactively publish 17 types of information, including the decision-making process it used, the standards it set for performing its duties, and the rules and regulations it controls or that its employees used to perform their duties.
The Court noted that “Reading the preamble of the RTI Act, indicates that the Constitution of India has established a democratic republic. Democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and to contain corruption and to hold Government and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. There must be a harmonization of conflicting interest while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideal, in as much as, when revelation of information in actual practice is likely to conflict with other public interest including efficient operations of the government, optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information certain information sought for by the citizen who desire to have it must be provided.”
The petitioner is entitled to know the rules established under Section 33 of the Act and to know the grounds upon which the petitioner was denied permission, the Court found, and the respondent is legally required to publish the information provided in Section 4 of the RTI Act. Since the petitioner will be unable to challenge the permit without this knowledge, it would be a blatant violation of his fundamental right and a statutory right to know and access the law of the land that she infringed.
The Court also stated that the petitioner is entitled to a writ of mandamus for a directive to seek such information, particularly the rules framed under Section 33 of the Act, especially when doing so will help what is obviously the purpose of the RTI Act, i.e., to receive information so as to know what is the procedure followed in the decision-making process and the rules and regulations empowering such decision-making process.
Hence, the Court allowed the petition and directed respondent to publish all the rules and orders framed under Section 33 of the Act on the website.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY AMIT ARAVIND
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