Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Monday stayed the order issued by Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar restraining public information officers (PIOs) from providing data sought without the consent of the concerned heads of departments.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice A. Rajashekar Reddy, issued interim orders staying the internal circular dated 13 October, 2021, issued by Somesh Kumar directing special chief secretaries, principal secretaries and heads of all government departments to instruct the respective PIOs to take consent from them before disseminating the information sought under the Right To Information Act (RTI).
The Chief Secretary’s circulation clearly mandates the PIOs to obtain permission from the concerned higher authorities. This was challenged before the High Court by various activists, advocates and others.
However, only two PILs were listed before the Chief Justice’ bench on Monday.
During the hearing, advocate general B.S. Prasad submitted that the RTI Act, 2005, itself said the PIOs had to take the assistance of the concerned officers before the information was furnished to the applicant under the Act.
Disproving the contentions, Justice Satish Chandra Sharma observed, "You have converted ‘assistance’ into permission’’. The word permission is not there in the RTI Act."
The bench said it stayed the internal note issued by the Chief Secretary and directed the Chief Secretary, principal secretary, GAD, and principal secretary, union ministry of public grievances and pensions to file their counter affidavits within two weeks....