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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Panels formed by SC under RTI ambit, rules CIC

Publication: Times Of India Delhi; Date: Apr 23, 2009; Section: Times Nation; Page: 17
Nitin Sethi | TNN
New Delhi: In a far-reaching order, the Central Information Commission has ruled that any specialised committee formed by the Supreme Court is also a public authority and therefore falls under the purview of the Right To Information Act.

The order came in the specific case before the CIC about the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) created under the orders of the apex court. The CEC, initially a five-member body and later enlarged after a long-running controversy about its original members, was set up by the court to handle all the forest-related matters before it.

The CEC had contended that it was not a ‘public’ authority under the RTI Act as it was not created or funded by the government but formed by the court. But the commission disagreed with the contention pointing out that any body created under the Constitution is an agency that is answerable under the information Act.

The order has come as a reaction to a controversial case that TOI had first reported. A forest official was persecuted by the Haryana government for booking culprits pointing out violations of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Forest Conservation Act in a wildlife sanctuary in the state. While he was shunted out and discriminated against, the case was taken up in the apex court.

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