CIC rejects the plea that bar councils are not 'public authority'
Danish Raza | January 27, 2010
In a recent decision, the CIC has ruled that the Bar Council of India and the state bar councils are covered under the RTI Act. An order to this effect was passed on January 11 by one of the centrals information commissioners, A N Tiwari.
The bar councils argued that they were not public authorities under the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act since they were established by the Advocates Act, 1961 and were not directly or indirectly funded either by the central government or the state governments.
“The main source of the finance of bar councils was the enrolment fees collected from the applicants and other such fees", argued the councils. They cited a decision of the Maharashtra State Information Commission in which it was held that just as the co-operative society the bar council too was not a public authority.
Rejecting the arguments, the information commissioner ruled that the Advocates Act of 1961 which brought the councils into being was an Act of the parliament and hence they came within the definition of ‘public authority’ under sub-section (b) of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
Under the above mentioned sub-section, public authority means any authority or body of self-government established by a law made by the parliament.
“Their plea is that they did not satisfy the requirement of being substantially funded directly or indirectly by the government about which Section 2(h) makes a mention. In a sense, their argument is that unless an entity satisfies all elements of qualifications mentioned in Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, it cannot be defined as a public authority,” said Tiwari.
“Even one of the elements of Section 2 (h) is sufficient for any entity to be characterized as public authority,” he added.
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