W.A. No. 25 of 2015. Case: B. Bhattacharjee Vs The Appellate Authority, High Court of Meghalaya, Shillong and Ors.. Meghalaya High Court

Case NumberW.A. No. 25 of 2015
Party NameB. Bhattacharjee Vs The Appellate Authority, High Court of Meghalaya, Shillong and Ors.
CounselFor Appellant: B. Bhattacharjee, Adv. and For Respondent: A. K. Singh, Sr. Adv., A. Pathania, Adv.
JudgesUma Nath Singh, C.J. And S. R. Sen , J.
IssueRight to Information Act (22 of 2005) - Sections 28(1), 2(e), 19
CitationAIR 2016 Meghalaya 1
Judgement DateNovember 06, 2015
CourtMeghalaya High Court

Judgment:

Uma Nath Singh, C.J.

  1. This writ appeal has been filed against judgment and order dated 29.07.2015 passed by learned single Judge in WP(C)No. 49 of 2015, whereby the writ petition was allowed and the pending appeal before the State Chief Information Commissioner (hereinafter to be referred to as 'CIC') has been quashed.

  2. Respondents filed a writ petition bearing WP(C) No.49 of 2015 seeking quashment of impugned order dated 18.3.2015 passed by respondent No.3 (CIC) with prayer to hold that the legal practitioners can appear and represent the parties before respondent No.3 and also to seek quashment of declaration made in pursuance of Rule No.7 of the Right to Information (Appeal and Procedures of the State Information Commission) Rules, 2007, relating to "Personal presence of the appellant or complainant", as violative of constitutional and statutory provisions of law.

  3. The brief facts giving rise to the filing of the writ petition are that the appellant filed an application dated 7.8.2014 under the Right to Information Act, 2005, before the Public Information Officer (hereinafter to be referred to as 'PIO') of the High Court of Meghalaya, to seek information with regard to an Advocate, who had been designated as Senior Advocate vide Memo No. HCM.II/168/2014/2018, dated 31.07.2014 by the High Court of Meghalaya.

    The said RTI application dated 7.8.2014 filed by the appellant was rejected by the PIO of the High Court of Meghalaya, vide the order dated 2.9.2014 on the ground that the applicant, i.e. the appellant herein, is not an "affected person" under Rule 4(v) of the High Court of Meghalaya (Right to Information) Rules, 2013.

    The appellant, being aggrieved by the order dated 2.9.2014 passed by the PIO, High Court of Meghalaya, preferred an appeal dated 29.9.2014 under Section 19 of the RTI Act, 2005 before the Appellate Authority (Registrar General), High Court of Meghalaya. The Appellate Authority (Registrar General), High Court of Meghalaya, after hearing both parties, upheld the order dated 2.9.2014 passed by the PIO, and dismissed the said appeal vide the order dated 13.11.2014 and further held that the information sought for cannot be disclosed as the same is covered by Rule 5 of the High Court of Meghalaya (Right to Information) Rules, 2013 which provides for exemption from disclosure of information.

    The appellant, again being aggrieved by order dated 13.11.2014 passed by the Appellant Authority (Registrar General), High Court of Meghalaya, preferred second appeal dated 29.1.2015 under Section 19(3) of the RTI Act, 2005 before respondent No.3 which was registered as MIC/Appeal/2/2015/25. Respondent No.3, while admitting the appeal, vide order dated 19.2.2015, issued notice to respondent Nos. 1 and 2 for show cause and listed the case for hearing on 18.3.2015. Accordingly, respondent Nos. 1 and 2 appeared on 18.3.2015 before respondent No. 3 through their lawyers to which respondent No. 3 took objections and made observations vide order dated 18.3.2015 that assistance of any person(s), who is/are legal practitioners is not permissible as per the provision of law laid down in Rules 7(4) of the Right to Information (Appeals and Procedure of the State Information Commission) Rules, 2007, as notified by the Government of Meghalaya.

    However, after the conclusion of the proceedings for the day, respondent Nos. 1 and 2 filed an application on 18.03.2015 before respondent No. 3 with prayer for representation by their legal representatives and the said application filed by respondent Nos. 1 and 2 is still pending before respondent No. 3.

    Thus, respondent Nos. 1 and 2 filed a writ petition before the High Court of Meghalaya, challenging the order dated 18.3.2015 passed by respondent No.3 which was registered as WP(C) No.49 of 2015. The Hon'ble Single Judge, while admitting the said writ petition stayed the further proceedings of Appeal No.MIC/Appeal/2/2015/25 pending before respondent No.3 vide order 26.3.2015. Finally, the learned Single Judge, after hearing both parties and considering the rival pleadings including the affidavit-in-opposition vide the impugned judgment and order dated 29.7.2015, allowed the writ petition and also quashed the appeal filed by respondent No.2 pending for disposal before respondent No.3.

    In the affidavit-in-opposition filed by the appellant (herein) before the learned Single Judge, he took the plea while countering the averments made in the writ petition that there is no legal foundation in the writ petition, that there was no denial of right of representation by a Lawman and that the filing of writ petition is premature. There is no denial of any right to the respondents.

    Besides, respondent No.3 (State CIC) also filed affidavit-in-opposition in the writ petition refuting the assertions made by the writ petitioners/respondents herein.

  4. It appears that learned single Judge has considered the writ petition, inter alia, on the premises that the appellant herein was not an affected party as he had not applied for, nor was his case taken up suo motu for designation by the High Court. It also appears that the State CIC/Appellate Authority respondent No. 3 objected to the appearance of lawyers on behalf of the High Court. It was not within the competence of respondent No. 3 to decide the legality or otherwise of the High Court of Meghalaya (RTI) Rules, 2013. The validity of a rule can be decided only by the High Court or the Supreme Court. Moreover, the Rules have been framed by a high constitutional authority.

    Under Section 30 of the Advocates Act, 1961, an advocate can appear anywhere, throughout the territory of India, before any tribunal or person legally authorized to take evidence. Since the State CIC has all the trappings of a tribunal, therefore, the Advocates cannot be stopped from appearance on behalf of the parties. On the question of representation by a counsel, learned single Judge has also considered the following...

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