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Suo Motu Disclosures By Public Authority

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508 words
Legal Issues

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Section 4- Suo motu Disclosures by Public Authorities and Mechanisms to Implement the Same.

The fundamental ideas of democracy and justice enshrined in the preamble of both the Indian Constitution and the Right to Information Act 2005(RTI Act), find their quintessence in the Section 4 of the RTI Act which corroborates the principle of Transparency in Administration and maximum disclosure by public authorities, the principles of Natural Justice and the Rule of Law, the democratic values ingrained in the Article 14, 19(1) (a) & 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Section 4(2) of the RTI Act mandates that besides obliging to the requests of public to furnish desired information, every public authority is statutorily required to disclose certain key information suo motu at regular periods so as to make the denizens use their Right to Information more efficaciously by minimizing the resort to RTI Act. This section acts akin to a vanguard by making it obligatory on the part of public authorities to actively publish and disseminate certain crucial information which are sine qua non in promoting the culture of openness within government.

Section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act enumerates seventeen different types of information which according to the Section 4(2) are mandatory for public authorities to publish voluntarily unless the same is exempted under Section 8(1), at regular intervals. This obligation of public authorities is categorized as 'General Obligation?1 whereas the obligation of public authorities to publish all the relevant facts while formulating important public policies and to provide reasons for its administrative or quasi-judicial decisions to affected persons has been grouped as 'Specific Obligation?.

Under 'Specific Obligation?, as mandated by Section 4(1) (c) every public authority has to publish all the relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decision but this has been restricted to cases which affect public. The principle of this provision is one of the several basic principles for 'Freedom of Information Legislation

1 25/IC (A)/2006. 16th April, 2006.

2 developed by Article 19(Global Campaign for Free Expression) International Standards Series, the Public's Right to Know?.

Furthermore, according to the Section 4(1) (d) it is imperative for every public authority to provide reasons to affected persons both for its administrative and quasi judicial decision. This incorporates one of the very important rules of 'Natural law? which is the foundation of 'Administrative law? of any civilized society. This is the most valuable safeguard against any arbitrary exercise of power as the reasons recorded can be judicially scrutinized to set the order aside if found extraneous. The principle of recording reasons for a decision was enunciated in Padfield v. Minister of Agriculture.2 The same principle is accepted in India and is upheld in various cases the first being, probably, Hochtief Gammon v. State of Orissa3. Also, J. Chandrachud observed in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India 4:

'Law cannot permit the exercise of a power to keep the reasons undisclosed if the sole reason for doing so is to keep the reasons away from judicial scrutiny'.5

The principle ingrained in ...

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