Information Commissions Play a Political Role, Not Judicial

In the Namit Sharma v/s Union of India judgement, the Supreme Court ruled that Information Commissions must work in benches of two members each, one of whom must be a judge. The logic is that the Info Commissions play a quasi-judicial role. However, more than a judicial role, the ICs play a political role.

The basic premise of the RTI Act is that all information must be disclosed, subject to narrowly define exclusions (Section 8). This too is qualified by Section 8 (2), which states

(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.

Thus the role of the Information Commissions is to make a determination of “public interest”. This is clearly a political judgment, and not a narrow interpretation of law. Furthermore, the Information Commissions, unlike the judiciary, are not supposed be neutral arbiters – the Act requires them to champion the cause of transparency – and hence there is a predisposition towards providing information to the applicant in appeal. The role in this case is of enforcement against violation by the State – in fact, the ICs can do this suo motu – this is very much a political role in that it aims to re-balance power, even when the judiciary does it.

Little Bit of Absurdity


One response to “Information Commissions Play a Political Role, Not Judicial

  1. Pingback: Little bit of absurdity (SC Order on Info Commissions) | Bourgeois Inspirations·

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