HC information eludes RTI applicant even after a year
Posted on January 22nd, 2012 at 08:58 PM.
Information sought under the Right to Information Act, 2005 from public authorities must be provided within 30 days as per the legislation.
But even the Madras High Court does not seem to follow the time limit scrupulously as it had not provided information sought by an applicant even after one year since the application was filed and six months after information was promised to be provided.
Filed with six queries
The RTI application was filed by an advocate here as early as on December 30, 2010 with six queries.
Replying to it on July 27 last year, the High Court’s Assistant Public Information Officer (APIO) V. Devanathan provided information for four queries with an assurance that the answers for the rest of the two queries would be provided at a later point of time. But the promise has not been kept till date.
The two queries, for which the information was yet to be provided, included details of judicial officers who were subjected to disciplinary action between 2006 and 2010, the charges levelled against them, the nature of punishment imposed on them and district wise particulars regarding vacancies in the post of judges, government advocates and court staff.
Revenue was less
However, information provided to the other queries of the applicant has revealed that the revenue earned by the State Government through stamps and court fee paid by those who file cases in the Madras High Court, its Madurai Bench as well as the lower courts in the State was less than 30 per cent of the expenditure incurred by the government every year for the judiciary.
As per the information provided by the Chief Accounts Officer of the Madras High Court through the APIO, the revenue obtained through stamps and court fees and remitted to the government account was Rs.68.24 crore in the financial year 2006-07, Rs. 76.63 crore in 2007-08, Rs. 79.07 crore in 2008-09, Rs. 76.58 crore in 2009-10 and Rs. 95.21 crore in 2010-11.
On the other hand, funds sanctioned by the government to the judicial department through budget allotment during these five years was Rs. 204 crore, Rs. 239 crore, Rs. 333 crore, Rs. 388 crore and Rs. 564 crore respectively.
Of this amount, the expenditure was Rs. 207 crore, Rs. 233 crore, Rs. 317 crore, Rs. 381 crore and Rs. 372 crore (expenditure up to December 2010).
The expenditure included payment towards monthly salary, medical allowance, house rent allowance, travel concession, honorarium, dearness allowance and non-salary items such as travel expenses, office expenses, rent, hospitality or entertainment, sumptuary allowance, festival advances, prizes, awards, books, notebooks, computer accessories and maintenance of court buildings.
Replying to another query, the APIO said that there were a total of 818 lower courts across the State including 107 District Courts, 49 Fast Track Courts (FTC), 205 Sub Courts (including Chief Judicial Magistrate courts), 184 District Munsif courts, 209 Judicial Magistrate courts and 63 District Munsif-cum-Judicial Magistrate courts.
The district-wise details of lower courts showed that at least eight districts — Kanyakumari, Karur, Krishnagiri, Nagapattinam, Nilgiris, Sivaganga, Thiruvannamalai and Thiruvarur — did not have even a single FTC. Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Kancheepuram, Namakkal, Perambalur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Theni districts had only one FTC each.
The rest of the districts had between two to five FTCs each.