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Can PCS exam candidate inspect records?
Supreme Court stays High Court order on right
to information issue
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 4
Seized of an important question of law whether inspection of records of any government agency under the Right to Information (RTI) Act could be permitted by courts, the Supreme Court today stayed an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court permitting inspection of state Public Service Commission records by a candidate who had failed in the PCS Executive class appointment exams six years ago.

While issuing notices to the Punjab Government and the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), a Bench comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Mr Justice C K Thakker directed state government counsel Swaroop Singh to submit a reply to the special leave petition (SLP) by former commissionís Secretary Jaspinder Singh Jakhar.

The High Courtís order of March 15, 2005, permitting unsuccessful candidate Rajiv Goyal to inspect PPSC records and a subsequent order passed by it on March 29 last dismissing Jakharís petition for impleading as a party to the case, were stayed by the apex court after his counsel Bimal Roy Jad contended that a serious question pertaining to the scope of Right to Information Act was involved.

Punjab Government counsel Swaroop Singh, who accepted the notices on behalf of the State and the PPSC, took a similar stand while bringing to the courtís notice that it had already admitted the commissionís appeal against the High Courtís March 15, 2005, order allowing inspection of the records by Goyal.

Mr Jakhar, who was the commissionís Secretary at the relevant time, in his petition said when the PPSC appeal was admitted by the apex court on April 19, 2005, it had already restrained Goyal from inspecting the documents, still the High Court dismissed his (Jakhar's) plea on March 29, 2006, raising the same question in his impleadment application.

Counsel for both the PPSC and Mr Jakhar contended that the main question arising out of the case was whether the RTI Act could be invoked in all circumstances, particularly when the apex court had passed a restraint order.

Mr Jakhar in his SLP had pointed out that the RTI Act did not give sweeping right to citizens to get access to the government documents as various conditions were attached to it, including sub-judice nature of the matters under Section 8(1)(b) of the Act.

ďThe High Court has not properly applied the provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005, thereby allowing the inspection of (PPSC) documents,Ē the SLP said.

Goyalís plea for inspection was initially allowed by a Faridkot civil court after he had failed in the 1999-2000 PCS Executive class exams, which was challenged in the High Court by the PPSC.

He had alleged that Mr Jakhar had informed him that though he was successful in the exams, some members of the commission had intervened in his case and got him deliberately failed. But his claim was contested by Mr Jakhar in his impleadment petition moved before the High Court. Nothing had transpired between him and Goyal and the latter had made unnecessary allegations against him without impleading him as a party. "Goyal cannot inspect the records to fish out a case which is not permissible by law," Mr Jakhar contended.




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