RTI Act not applies to the courts When there is an effective machinery for having access to the information or obtaining certified copies which, in our view, is a very simple procedure i.e.filing of an application/affidavit with requisite court fee and stating the reasons for which the certified copies are required, we do not find any justification for invoking Section 11 of the RTI Act and adopt a cumbersome procedure. This would involve wastage of both time and fiscal resources which the preamble of the RTI Act itself intends to avoid. We summarise our conclusion:- (i) Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules stipulating a third party to have access to the information/obtaining the certified copies of the documents or orders requires to file an application/affidavit stating the reasons for seeking the information, is not inconsistent with the provisions of the RTI Act; but merely lays down a different procedure as the practice or payment of fees, etc. for obtaining information. In the absence of inherent inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act and other law, overriding effect of RTI Act would not apply. (ii) The information to be accessed/certified copies on the judicial side to be obtained through the mechanism provided under the High Court Rules, the provisions of the RTI Act shall not be resorted to. In the light of aforesaid reasonings, the impugned order dated 13.03.2014 passed by the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad in Letters Patent Appeal No.1348 of 2013 is confirmed and these appeals are dismissed.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S).1966-1967 OF 2020
(Arising out of SLP(C) No.5840 of 2015)
CHIEF INFORMATION COMMISSIONER …..Appellant
VERSUS
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT AND
ANOTHER …..Respondents
J U D G M E N T
R. BANUMATHI, J.
Leave granted.

  1. The point falling for determination in this appeal is as regards
    the right of a third party to apply for certified copies to be obtained
    from the High Court by invoking the provisions of Right to
    Information Act without resorting to Gujarat High Court Rules
    prescribed by the High Court.
  2. Brief facts which led to filing of this appeal are as follows:-
    An RTI application dated 05.04.2010 was filed by respondent
    No.2 seeking information pertaining to the following cases – Civil
    Application No.5517 of 2003 and Civil Application No.8072 of 1989
    1
    along with all relevant documents and certified copies. In reply, by
    letter dated 29.04.2010, Public Information Officer, Gujarat High
    Court informed respondent No.2 that for obtaining required copies,
    he should make an application personally or through his advocate
    on affixing court fees stamp of Rs.3/- with requisite fee to the
    “Deputy Registrar”. It was further stated that as respondent No.2 is
    not a party to the said proceedings, as per Rule 151 of the Gujarat
    High Court Rules, 1993, his application should be accompanied by
    an affidavit stating the grounds for which the certified copies are
    required and on making such application, he will be supplied the
    certified copies of the documents as per Rules 149 to 154 of the
    Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993.
  3. Being aggrieved, respondent No.2 preferred Appeal No.84 of
    2010 before the Appellate Authority-Registrar Administration under
    Section 19 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (for short “RTI Act”).
    The appeal was dismissed vide order dated 04.08.2010 on the
    ground that for obtaining certified copies, the alternative efficacious
    remedy is already available under the Gujarat High Court Rules,
    1993 and that under the provisions of RTI Act, no certified copies
    can be provided.
  4. Respondent No.2 then filed Second Appeal No.1437 of 2010-
    11 before the Appellant-Chief Information Commissioner and notice
    2
    was sent to respondent No.1. Respondent No.1-High Court filed its
    response reiterating the position that there are provisions under
    Rules 149 to 154 of the Gujarat High Court Rules for anybody who
    wants to obtain the certified copies as per which,
    application/affidavit should be filed stating the grounds for which the
    documents are required and with requisite court fee stamps.
    Respondent No.1 stated that despite the letter dated 02.07.2010 by
    the Deputy Registrar (CC Section), Decree Department, Gujarat
    High Court to respondent No.2 informing him of the procedure for
    getting certified copies, respondent No.2 has not made application
    as per the rules of the High Court and that the Public Information
    Officer cannot be compelled to breach the High Court Rules and
    hence, the appeal filed before the Chief Information Commissioner
    (CIC) is liable to be dismissed. Relying upon Sections 6(2) and 22
    of the RTI Act, the appellant-Chief Information Commissioner vide
    its order dated 04.04.2013 directed Public Information Officer of the
    Gujarat High Court to provide the information sought by respondent
    No.2 within twenty days.
  5. Challenging the order of Chief Information Commissioner,
    respondent No.1 filed Special Civil Application No.7880 of 2013
    before the High Court. The learned Single Judge, while admitting
    3
    the petition, passed an interim order dated 11.10.2013 directing
    respondent No.1 to provide the information sought by respondent
    No.2 within four weeks. The learned Single Judge held that the
    legality and validity of the direction given by the appellant and the
    right of respondent No.2 to receive the copies under RTI Act will be
    considered at the stage of final hearing. It was however clarified that
    supply of information by respondent No.1 shall not be construed as
    acceptance of applicability of RTI Act to the High Court.
  6. Being aggrieved by the interim order, respondent No.1-High
    Court preferred Letters Patent Appeal No.1348 of 2013 before the
    Division Bench contending that the party who seeks certified copies
    has to make an application along with the copying charges and
    requisite court fees stamp as per Rules 149 to 154 of the Gujarat
    High Court Rules. As per the Rules, if the certified copy is sought by
    a person who is not a party to the litigation, his application has to be
    accompanied by an affidavit stating therein the purpose for which he
    requires the certified copies. Vide impugned order, the High Court
    allowed the Letters Patent Appeal holding that when a particular
    field is governed by the rules which are not declared ultra-vires,
    then there is no question of applying the fresh rules and make the
    situation confusing. The High Court held that in the light of the High
    4
    Court Rules, certified copies may be given on payment of charges
    as per the Rules and also the applicant (respondent No.2) has to
    file an affidavit disclosing the purpose for which the certified copies
    are required and there is no question of making an application
    under the RTI Act. The Division Bench set aside the order of the
    Chief Information Commissioner by observing that when a copy is
    demanded by any person, the same has to be in accordance with
    the Rules of the High Court on the subject.
  7. As the question involved is concerned with all the High Courts
    and having regard to the importance of the matter, we have
    requested Mr. Atmaram N.S. Nadkarni, learned Additional Solicitor
    General (ASG) to appear as amicus curiae to assist the Court which
    the learned ASG readily agreed. Mr. Nadkarni collected information
    from all the High Courts and filed a compilation of the information
    obtained by him about the Rules framed by various High Courts in
    exercise of their power under Article 225 of the Constitution of India
    and under Section 28 of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  8. Mr. Preetesh Kapoor, learned Senior counsel for the appellant
    has contended that Section 6(2) of the RTI Act specifically provides
    that an applicant making a request for information shall not be
    required to give reasons for requesting the information sought and
    5
    whereas under the Gujarat High Court Rules, applications made by
    third parties seeking copies of the documents shall be accompanied
    by an affidavit stating the grounds on which they are required and
    there is direct inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act
    and the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993. It was submitted that in
    view of the inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act and
    the Gujarat High Court Rules, harmonious construction between the
    two is not possible and in the event of conflict between the
    provisions of RTI Act and any other law made by the Parliament or
    State Legislature or any other authority, the former must prevail. It
    was submitted that Section 22 of the RTI Act specifically provides
    that the provisions of the RTI Act will have an overriding effect over
    any other laws for the time being in force. The learned Senior
    counsel submitted that the High Court Rules have been framed in
    exercise of the powers under Article 225 of the Constitution of India
    which would be subject to any other law and the non-obstante
    clause in Section 22 of the RTI Act shows that the provisions of the
    RTI Act would override the High Court Rules. The learned Senior
    counsel inter alia relied upon the recent judgment of the
    Constitution Bench in Central Public Information Officer, Supreme
    Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agrawal 2019 (16) SCALE 40.
    6
  9. Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel appearing for the
    intervenors submitted that there can be no apprehension that
    allowing an applicant to seek information from the High Court under
    RTI Act can prejudicially affect the privacy/rights of other parties or
    the administration of justice. Reiterating the submission of Senior
    counsel, Mr. Preetesh Kapoor, Mr. Prashant Bhushan submitted that
    Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules is not in consonance with
    Section 6(2) of the RTI Act and the provisions of RTI Act prevails
    over the relevant Rules of Public Authorities/Gujarat High Court
    Rules. Taking us through Section 22 of the RTI Act, learned
    counsel submitted that RTI Act is a general law made by the
    Parliament with the avowed object of dissemination of information
    and ensuring transparency in the functioning of the Public
    Authorities and in view of non obstante clause of Section 22 of the
    RTI Act, in case of any conflict regarding “access to information
    from public authorities”, the provisions of RTI Act will prevail over
    any other law. In support of his contention, the learned counsel
    placed reliance upon Institute of Companies Secretaries of India v.
    Paras Jain 2019 SCC Online SC 764 and the Constitution Bench
    judgment in Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
    7
  10. Mr. Aniruddha P. Mayee, learned counsel appearing for
    respondent No.1-High Court of Gujarat submitted that the Gujarat
    High Court Rules 149 to 154 do not stipulate anything contra to
    Section 22 of the RTI Act and the Gujarat High Court Rule 151 is in
    consonance with the RTI Act. The learned counsel submitted that
    respondent No.2 was only informed to make an application as per
    the procedure stipulated under the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993
    and since respondent No.2 was not a party to the proceedings, he
    was informed that his application shall be accompanied with an
    affidavit stating the grounds for which the certified copies are
    required. The learned counsel submitted that when an efficacious
    remedy is available under Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules
    which is in consonance with the provisions of RTI Act, the provisions
    of the RTI Act cannot be invoked and the High Court rightly held that
    there is no question of making an application under the RTI Act and
    rightly quashed the order of the appellant-Chief Information
    Commissioner.
  11. Mr. Nadkarni, learned amicus has taken us through the
    information received from the various High Courts and submitted
    that in exercise of power under Article 225 of the Constitution of
    India, the High Court Rules are framed and the Rules provide for a
    8
    mode for furnishing of information by way of certified copies to
    persons who are party to the litigation after making payment of
    requisite fees. It was submitted that insofar as third parties i.e.
    persons who are not party to the litigation are concerned, the same
    is also provided under the Rules, if the third party files an affidavit
    stating the reasonable grounds to receive such information/certified
    copies. The learned amicus submitted that there is no inconsistency
    between the RTI Act and the Rules framed by the High Court so as
    to furnish information. It was also submitted that although Section
    22 of the RTI Act has an overriding effect over any other laws, in
    case there are inconsistencies, Section 22 of the RTI Act does not
    contemplate to override those legislations which also aim to ensure
    access to information. The learned amicus submitted that so far as
    the information on the judicial side of the High Court, the Rules
    framed by the High Court provide for dissemination of information to
    third party as per the High Court Rules by filing an application with
    requisite fee and filing an affidavit stating the grounds. Insofar as
    the information on the administrative side of the High Court, the
    learned amicus submitted that access to such information could be
    had through the Rules framed by the various High Courts and the
    Rules framed under the RTI Act by the High Courts. Drawing our
    attention to the judgment of the Delhi High Court in The Registrar,
    9
    Supreme Court of India v. RS Misra (2017) 244 DLT 179 and
    judgment of the Karnataka High Court in Karnataka Information
    Commissioner v. State Public Information Officer and another
    WP(C) No.9418 of 2008, the learned amicus submitted that the
    High Courts have taken a consistent view that the information can
    be accessed through the mechanism provided under the Supreme
    Court Rules, 2013 and the High Court Rules and once any
    information can be accessed through the mechanism provided
    under the Statute or the Rules framed, the provisions of the RTI Act
    cannot be resorted to.
  12. We have carefully considered the contentions and perused
    the impugned judgment and materials on record. The following
    points arise for consideration in this appeal:-
    (i) Whether Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993
    stipulating that for providing copy of documents to the third
    parties, they are required to file an affidavit stating the
    reasons for seeking certified copies, suffers from any
    inconsistency with the provisions of RTI Act?
    (ii) When there are two machineries to provide
    information/certified copies – one under the High Court
    Rules and another under the RTI Act, in the absence of
    any inconsistency in the High Court Rules, whether the
    provisions of RTI Act can be resorted to for obtaining
    certified copy/information?
    10
  13. Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 explains the
    meaning of the term “information” which reads as under:-
  14. Definitions. – In this Act, unless, the context otherwise requires,-
    ………
    (f) “information” means any material in any form, including
    records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press
    releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers,
    samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and
    information relating to any private body which can be accessed by
    a public authority under any other law for the time being in force;
  15. Section 2(h) of the RTI Act defines “public authority”. The
    term “public authority” has been given very wide meaning in the
    RTI Act. Section 2(h) of the RTI Act reads as under:-
  16. Definitions. – In this Act, unless, the context otherwise requires,-
    ………
    (h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution
    of self-government established or constituted,—
    (a) by or under the Constitution;
    (b) by any other law made by Parliament;
    (c) by any other law made by State Legislature;
    (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate
    Government, and includes any—
    (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed;
    (ii) non-Government Organisation substantially
    financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by
    the appropriate Government;
  17. Section 2(i) of the RTI Act defines “record” which is an
    inclusive definition. Section 2(j) explains “right to information”.
    Sections 2(i) and 2(j) of the RTI Act read as under:-
  18. Definitions. – In this Act, unless, the context otherwise requires,-
    ………
    11
    (i) “record” includes—
    (i) any document, manuscript and file;
    (ii) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a
    document;
    (iii)any reproduction of image or images embodied in such
    microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and
    (iv) any other material produced by a computer or any other
    device;
    (j) “right to information” means the right to information accessible
    under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public
    authority and includes the right to—
    (i) inspection of work, documents, records;
    (ii)taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or
    records;
    (iii) taking certified samples of material;
    (iv) obtaining information in the form of diskettes, floppies,
    tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or
    through printouts where such information is stored in a
    computer or in any other device;
  19. Section 8(1) of the RTI Act provides for exemption from
    disclosure of information. Right to information is subject to
    exceptions or exemptions stated in Section 8(1)(a) to 8(1)(j) of the
    RTI Act. There are ten clauses of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act.
    Clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 8 deals with information that
    would compromise the sovereignty or integrity of the country and
    like matter; clause (b) covers any information which has been
    expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal
    or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court; clause
    (c) covers such matters which would cause a breach of privilege of
    the Parliament or the State Legislatures; clause (d) protects
    information of commercial nature and trade secrets and intellectual
    12
    property; clause (e) exempts the disclosure of any information
    available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the
    competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest
    warrants the disclosure of such information; clause (f) prevents
    information being disseminated, if it is received in confidence from
    any foreign Government; clause (g) exempts the disclosure of any
    information which endanger the life or physical safety of any person
    or identify the source of information or assistance given in
    confidence for law enforcement or security purposes; clause (h)
    bars access to such information which would impede the process of
    investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; clause (i)
    forbids records and papers relating to deliberations of ministers and
    officers of the executive being made available, subject to a proviso;
    and, clause (j) prohibits disclosure of personal information unless
    there is an element of public interest involved.
  20. In Central Public Information Officer, Supreme Court of India
    v. Subhash Chandra Agrawal 2019 (16) SCALE 40, the Supreme
    Court upheld the order passed by the Central Information
    Commissioner directing the CPIO, Supreme Court of India to furnish
    information as to the assets declared by the Hon’ble Judges of the
    Supreme Court. The Constitution Bench held that such disclosure
    would not, in any way, impinge upon the personal information and
    13
    right to privacy of the Judges. The fiduciary relationship rule in
    terms of Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act was held inapplicable.
    Learned counsel appearing for the parties extensively relied upon
    the observations of the Supreme Court in Subhash Chandra
    Agarwal. Since the issue before us is the High Court Rules vis-avis., the RTI Act, we do not propose to refer the various
    observations copiously relied upon by the learned counsel
    appearing for the parties.
  21. Article 124 relates to the establishment and constitution of the
    Supreme Court. Article 124 states that the Supreme Court of India
    consist of Chief Justice of India and other Judges. Under Article 145
    of the Constitution, the Supreme Court may, from time to time, with
    the approval of the President, make Rules for regulating generally
    the Practice and Procedure of the Court. In exercise of the powers
    under Article 145 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has framed
    “Supreme Court Rules”. Order XIII of the Supreme Court Rules lays
    down the procedure in respect of grant of certified copies of
    pleadings, judgments, documents, decrees or orders, deposition of
    the witnesses, etc. to the parties to the litigation and also to the third
    parties. The parties to a proceeding in the Supreme Court shall be
    entitled to obtain certified copies by making appropriate application
    14
    and the court fees payable as per the “Supreme Court Rules”. So
    far as the third parties are concerned, as per Order XIII Rule 2 of
    the Supreme Court Rules, the court on the application of a person
    who is not a party to the case, appeal or matter, pending or
    disposed of, may on good cause shown, allow such person to
    receive such copies as is or are mentioned in the Order XIII Rule 1
    of the Supreme Court Rules. Thus, as per the Supreme Court
    Rules also, the third party is required to show good cause for
    obtaining certified copies of the documents or orders.
  22. Article 216 relates to the constitution of High Courts. Every
    High Court consists of a Chief Justice and other Judges as the
    President of India may from time to time appoint. The High Court
    Rules are framed under Article 225 of the Constitution of India. The
    procedure followed for furnishing of copies/certified copies of
    orders/documents etc., being information on the judicial side, are
    governed by the Rules framed by the High Court under Article 225
    of the Constitution of India. Insofar as the RTI Act is concerned, in
    exercise of the powers under Section 28 of the RTI Act, various
    High Courts have framed the Rules under RTI Act and the
    information on the administrative side of the High Court can be
    15
    accessed as per the Rules framed by the High Courts under RTI
    Act.
  23. In the present case, we are concerned with Gujarat High
    Court Rules. Grant of certified copies to parties to the litigation and
    third parties are governed by Rules 149 to 154 of Gujarat High
    Court Rules. As per the Rules, on filing of application with
    prescribed court fees stamp, litigants/parties to the proceedings are
    entitled to receive the copies of documents/orders/judgments etc.
    The third parties who are not parties in any of the proceedings, shall
    not be given the copies of judgments and other documents without
    the order of the Assistant Registrar. As per Rule 151 of the Gujarat
    High Court Rules, the applications requesting for copies of
    documents/judgments made by third parties, shall be accompanied
    by an affidavit stating the grounds for which they are required. Rule
    151 reads as under:-
    “151. Parties to proceedings entitled to copies; application by
    third parties to be accompanied by affidavits. Copies of
    documents in any Civil or Criminal Proceedings and copies of
    judgment of the High Court shall not be given to persons other
    than the parties thereto without the order of the Assistant
    Registrar. Applications for copies of documents or judgment
    made by third parties shall be accompanied by an affidavit stating
    the grounds on which they are required, provided that such
    affidavit shall be dispensed with in case of applications made by
    or on behalf of the Government of the Union, the Government of
    any State or the Government of any foreign State.”
    16
  24. The learned amicus has obtained information from various
    High Courts as to the procedure followed by the High Courts for
    furnishing certified copies of orders/judgments/documents. As per
    the Rules framed by various High Courts, parties to the proceedings
    are entitled to obtain certified copies of orders/judgments/documents
    on filing of application along with prescribed court fees stamp.
    Insofar as furnishing of certified copies to third parties, the Rules
    framed by the High Courts stipulate that the certified copies of
    documents/orders or judgments or copies of proceedings would be
    furnished to the third parties only on the orders passed by the court
    or the Registrar, on being satisfied about the reasonable cause and
    bona fide of the reasons seeking the information/certified copies of
    the documents. We may refer to the Rules framed by the High
    Courts of Bombay, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madras
    and various other High Courts which stipulate similar provisions for
    furnishing information/certified copies to third parties. The Rules
    stipulate that for the third parties to have access to the information
    on the judicial side or obtaining certified copies of
    documents/judgments/orders, the third parties will have to make an
    application stating the reasons for which they are required and on
    payment of necessary court fees stamp. As pointed out earlier,
    Supreme Court Rules also stipulate that certified copies of
    17
    documents or orders could be supplied to the third parties only on
    being satisfied about the reasonable cause. Be it noted, the access
    to the information or certified copies of the
    documents/judgments/orders/court proceedings are not denied to
    the third parties. The Rules of the High Court only stipulate that the
    third parties will have to file an application/affidavit stating the
    reasons for which the information/certified copies are required. The
    Rules framed by the Gujarat High Court are in consonance with the
    provisions of the RTI Act. There is no inconsistency between the
    provisions of the RTI Act with the Rules framed by the High Court in
    exercise of the powers under Article 225 of the Constitution of India.
  25. Mr. Preetesh Kapoor, learned Senior counsel for the appellant
    has submitted that Section 6(2) of the RTI Act grants a substantive
    right and the person who is seeking information/copies is not
    required to give any reason and this right cannot be curtailed or
    whittled down by procedural laws framed by the High Court under
    Article 225 of the Constitution of India. In support of his contention
    that the rules framed by the High Court in exercise of powers under
    Article 225 cannot make or curtail any substantive law, reliance was
    placed upon Raj Kumar Yadav v. Samir Kumar Mahaseth and
    Others (2005) 3 SCC 601. Learned Senior counsel further
    18
    submitted that Section 22 of the RTI Act specifically provides that
    the provisions of the RTI Act will have an overriding effect over other
    laws for the time being in force. It was therefore, submitted that in
    the event of any conflict between the provisions of the RTI Act and
    any other laws made by the Parliament or a State Legislature or any
    other authority, the provisions of the RTI Act must prevail and
    therefore, the RTI Act would prevail over the rules framed by the
    High Court. Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel for the
    intervention applicants also reiterated the same submission.
  26. In order to consider the contentions urged by the learned
    Senior counsel for the appellant and Mr. Prashant Bhushan, let us
    briefly refer to the various categories of information held by the High
    Court, which are broadly as under:-
    (a) information held by the High Court relating to the
    parties to the litigation/proceedings – pleadings,
    documents and other materials and memo of grounds
    raised by the parties;
    (b) orders and judgments passed by the High Court,
    notes of proceedings, etc.;
    (c) In exercise of power of superintendence over the
    other courts and tribunals, information received in the
    records submitted/called for by those courts and
    tribunals like subordinate judiciary, various tribunals
    like Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Customs Excise
    19
    and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal and other
    tribunals;
    (d) information on the administrative side of the High
    Court viz. appointments, transfers and postings of the
    judicial officers, staff members of the High Court and
    the district judiciary, disciplinary action taken against
    the judicial officers and the staff members and such
    other information relating to the administrative work.
    (e) Correspondence by the High Court with the Supreme
    Court, Government and with the district judiciary, etc.;
    and
    (f) information on the administrative side as to the
    decision taken by the collegium of the High Court in
    making recommendations of the Judges to be
    appointed to the High Court; information as to the
    assets of the sitting Judges held by the Chief Justice
    of the High Court.
  27. Information under the categories (a), (b) and (c) and other
    information on the judicial side can be accessed/certified copies of
    documents and orders could be obtained by the parties to the
    proceedings in terms of the High Court Rules and the parties to the
    proceedings are entitled to the same. So far as the third parties are
    concerned, as of right, they are not entitled to access the
    information/obtain the certified copies of documents, orders and
    other proceedings. As per rules framed by the High Court, a third
    20
    party can obtain the certified copies of the documents, orders or
    judgments or can have access to the information only by filing an
    application/affidavit and by stating the reason for which the
    information/copies of documents or orders are required. Insofar as
    on the administrative side i.e. categories (d), (e) and (f), one can
    have access to the information or copies of the documents could be
    obtained under the rules framed by the various High Courts or
    under the rules framed by the High Court under the RTI Act. Insofar
    as the disclosure of information as to the assets of the Judges held
    by the Chief Justice of the High Court, the same is now covered by
    the judgment of the Constitution Bench reported in Central Public
    Information Officer, Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra
    Agrawal 2019 (16) SCALE 40.
  28. The preamble to the RTI Act suggests that the Act was
    enacted “to promote transparency and accountability in the working
    of every public authority…….”. The Act was enacted by keeping in
    view the right of “an informed citizenry and transparency of
    information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain
    corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities
    accountable to the governed…..”. The preamble opens with a
    reference to the Constitution having established a democratic
    21
    republic and the need therefore, for an informed citizenry. The
    preamble reveals that legislature was conscious of the likely conflict
    with other public interest including efficient operations of the
    Governments and optimum use of limited fiscal resources and the
    preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information and the
    necessity to harmonise these conflicting interests. A citizen of India
    has every right to ask for any information subject to the limitation
    prescribed under the Act. The right to seek information is only to
    fulfill the objectives of the Act laid down in the preamble, that is, to
    promote transparency of information.
  29. Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules, 1993 requires a
    third party applicant seeking copies of documents in any civil or
    criminal proceedings to file an application/affidavit stating the
    reasons for which those documents are required. As such, the High
    Court Rules do not obstruct a third party from obtaining copies of
    documents in any court proceedings or any document on the judicial
    side. It is not as if the information is denied or refused to the
    applicant. All that is required to be done is to apply for the certified
    copies with application/affidavit stating the reasons for seeking the
    information. The reason insisting upon the third party for stating the
    grounds for obtaining certified copies is to satisfy the court that the
    22
    information is sought for bona fide reasons or to effectuate public
    interest. The information is held by the High Court as a trustee for
    the litigants in order to adjudicate upon the matter and administer
    justice. The same cannot be permitted by the third party to have
    access to such personal information of the parties or information
    given by the Government in the proceedings. Lest, there would be
    misuse of process of court and the information and it would reach
    unmanageable levels. If the High Court Rules framed under
    Article 225 provide a mechanism for invoking the said right in a
    particular manner, the said mechanism should be preserved and
    followed. The said mechanism cannot be abandoned or
    discontinued merely because the general law – RTI Act has been
    enacted.
  30. As discussed earlier, the object of the RTI Act itself recognizes
    the need to protect the institutional interest and also to make
    optimum use of limited fiscal resources and preservation of
    confidentiality of sensitive information. The procedure to obtain
    certified copies under the High Court Rules is not cumbersome and
    the procedure is very simple – filing of an application/affidavit along
    with the requisite court fee stating the reasons for seeking the
    information. The information held by the High Court on the judicial
    23
    side are the “personal information” of the litigants like title cases and
    family court matters, etc. Under the guise of seeking information
    under the RTI Act, the process of the court is not to be abused and
    information not to be misused.
  31. In exercise of supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 of the
    Constitution of India, if the records are received by the High Court
    from tribunals like Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, it may contain the
    details disclosed by an assessee in his Income Tax Return. As held
    in Girish Ramchandra Deshpande v. Central Information
    Commissioner and Others (2013) 1 SSC 212, the details disclosed
    by a person in his Income Tax Return are personal information
    which stands exempted from disclosure unless it involves a larger
    public interest and the larger public interest justifies the disclosure
    of such information. While seeking information or certified copies of
    the documents, the High Court Rules which require the third party to
    a proceeding to file an affidavit stating the reasons for seeking the
    information, the same cannot be said to be inconsistent with the
    provisions of the RTI Act in as much as the rejection if any, made
    thereafter will be for the very reasons as stipulated in Section 8 of
    the RTI Act.
    24
  32. Considering the implementation of RTI Act and observing that
    the existing mechanism for invoking the said right should be
    preserved and operated, in Institute of Chartered Accountants of
    India v. Shaunak H. Satya and Others (2011) 8 SCC 781, the
    Supreme Court held as under:-
    “24. One of the objects of democracy is to bring about
    transparency of information to contain corruption and bring about
    accountability. But achieving this object does not mean that other
    equally important public interests including efficient functioning of
    the governments and public authorities, optimum use of limited
    fiscal resources, preservation of confidentiality of sensitive
    information, etc. are to be ignored or sacrificed. The object of the
    RTI Act is to harmonise the conflicting public interests, that is,
    ensuring transparency to bring in accountability and containing
    corruption on the one hand, and at the same time ensure that the
    revelation of information, in actual practice, does not harm or
    adversely affect other public interests which include efficient
    functioning of the governments, optimum use of limited fiscal
    resources and preservation of confidentiality of sensitive
    information, on the other hand. While Sections 3 and 4 seek to
    achieve the first objective, Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 seek to achieve
    the second objective.
  33. Therefore, when Section 8 exempts certain information from
    being disclosed, it should not be considered to be a fetter on the
    right to information, but as an equally important provision protecting
    other public interests essential for the fulfilment and preservation of
    democratic ideals. Therefore, in dealing with information not falling
    under Sections 4(1)(b) and (c), the competent authorities under the
    RTI Act will not read the exemptions in Section 8 in a restrictive
    manner but in a practical manner so that the other public interests
    are preserved and the RTI Act attains a fine balance between its
    goal of attaining transparency of information and safeguarding the
    other public interests.”
  34. While examining the issue of where two mechanisms exist for
    obtaining the information i.e. the Supreme Court Rules and the RTI
    25
    Act, in The Registrar Supreme Court of India v. R S Misra (2017)
    244 DLT 179, the Delhi High Court held that “once any information
    can be accessed through the mechanism provided under another
    statute, then the provisions of the RTI Act cannot be resorted to.” In
    (2017) 244 DLT 179, the Delhi High Court held as under:-
    “53. The preamble shows that the RTI Act has been enacted only to
    make accessible to the citizens the information with the public
    authorities which W.P.(C) 3530/2011 Page 22 of 36 hitherto was not
    available. Neither the Preamble of the RTI Act nor does any other
    provision of the Act disclose the purport of the RTI Act to provide
    additional mode for accessing information with the public authorities
    which has already formulated rules and schemes for making the
    said information available. Certainly if the said rules, regulations
    and schemes do not provide for accessing information which has
    been made accessible under the RTI Act, resort can be had to the
    provision of the RTI Act but not to duplicate or to multiply the modes
    of accessing information.
  35. This Court is further of the opinion that if any information can be
    accessed through the mechanism provided under another statute,
    then the provisions of the RTI Act cannot be resorted to as there is
    absence of the very basis for invoking the provisions of RTI Act,
    namely, lack of transparency. In other words, the provisions of RTI
    Act are not to be resorted to if the same are not actuated to achieve
    transparency.
  36. Section 2(j) of the RTI Act reveals that the said Act is concerned
    only with that information, which is under the exclusive control of
    the ‘public authority’. Providing copies/certified copies is not
    separate from providing information. The SCR not only deal with
    providing ‘certified copies’ of judicial records but also deal with
    providing ‘not a certified copy’ or simply a ‘copy’ of the document.
    26
    The certification of the records is done by the Assistant
    Registrar/Branch Officer or any officer on behalf of the Registrar. In
    the opinion of this Court, in case of a statute which contemplates
    dissemination of information as provided for by the Explanation to
    Section 4 of the RTI Act then in such situation, public will have
    minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain such information.
  37. There are other provisions of the RTI Act which support the said
    position, namely, Sections 4(2), (3) and (4) which contemplate that
    if an information is disseminated then the public will have minimum
    resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain information. In the present
    case, the dissemination of information under the provisions of the
    SCR squarely fits into the definition of “disseminated” as provided
    in the aforesaid Explanation to Section 7(9) and the Preamble
    contemplate a bar for providing information if it „disproportionally
    diverts the resources of the public authority”.
  38. Section 4(2) also provides that it shall be constant endeavour of
    every public authority to take steps in accordance with the
    requirements of subSection (1) thereof and to provide as much
    information suo-motu to the public at regular intervals through
    various means of communications including intervals so that the
    public has minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain
    information.” [Underlining added]
    The same view was taken up by the Karnataka High Court in State
    Public Information Officer and Deputy Registrar (Establishment) v.
    Karnataka Information Commission and Another WP No.26763 of
    2013 dated 09.01.2019.
  39. We fully endorse above views of the Delhi High Court. When
    the High Court Rules provide for a mechanism that the
    information/certified copies can be obtained by filing an
    27
    application/affidavit, the provisions of the RTI Act are not to be
    resorted.
  40. Sub-section (2) of Section 4 of the RTI Act provides that every
    public authority to take steps to provide as much information suo
    motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of
    communications including internet, so that the public have minimum
    resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain information. Suo motu
    disclosure of information on important aspects of working of a public
    authority is therefore, an essential component of information regime.
    The judgments and orders passed by the High Courts are all
    available in the website of the respective High Courts and any
    person can have access to these judgments and orders. Likewise,
    the status of the pending cases and the orders passed by the High
    Courts in exercise of its power under Section 235 of the Constitution
    of India i.e. control over the subordinate courts like transfers,
    postings and promotions are also made available in the website. In
    order to maintain the confidentiality of the documents and other
    information pertaining to the litigants to the proceedings and to
    maintain proper balance, Rules of the High Court insist upon the
    third party to file an application/affidavit to obtain
    information/certified copies of the documents, lest such application
    28
    would reach unmanageable proportions apart from the misuse of
    such information.
  41. Section 22 of the RTI Act lays down that the provisions of the
    RTI Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent
    therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and any other
    law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by
    virtue of any law other than RTI Act. Learned Senior counsel for the
    appellant has submitted that since the requirement under Rule 151
    of the Gujarat High Court Rules of filing an affidavit stating the
    grounds for seeking the information is directly contrary to Section
    6(2) of the RTI Act and there is direct inconsistency between the
    provisions of the RTI Act and the Gujarat High Court Rules and in
    the event of conflict between the provisions of the RTI Act and any
    other law made by the Parliament or a State Legislature or any
    other authority, the RTI Act must prevail.
  42. In the non obstante clause of Section 22 of the RTI Act, three
    categories have been mentioned:- (i) the Official Secrets Act, 1923;
    and (ii) any other law for the time being in force; or (iii) any
    instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. In
    case of inconsistency of any law with the provisions of the Right to
    Information Act, overriding effect has been given to the provisions of
    29
    the Right to Information Act. Section 31 of the RTI Act which is a
    repealing clause repeals only the Freedom of Information Act, 2002
    and not other laws. The Right to Information Act has not repealed
    the Official Secrets Act or any of the laws providing confidentiality
    which prohibits the authorities to disclose information. Therefore, all
    those enactments including Official Secrets Act, 1923 continue to be
    in force. This Act however, has an overriding effect to the extent
    they are inconsistent.
  43. The non-obstante clause of the RTI Act does not mean an
    implied repeal of the High Court Rules and Orders framed under
    Article 225 of the Constitution of India; but only has an overriding
    effect in case of inconsistency. A special enactment or rule cannot
    be held to be overridden by a later general enactment simply
    because the latter opens up with a non-obstante clause, unless
    there is clear inconsistency between the two legislations. In this
    regard, we may usefully refer to the judgment of the Supreme Court
    in R.S. Raghunath v. State of Karnataka (1992) 1 SCC 335 wherein,
    the Supreme Court held as under:-
    “38. In Ajoy Kumar Banerjee v. Union of India (1984) 3 SCC 127,
    Sabyasachi Mukharji, J. (as His Lordship then was) observed thus :
    “As mentioned hereinbefore if the scheme was held to be
    valid, then the question what is the general law and what is the
    special law and which law in case of conflict would prevail
    would have arisen and that would have necessitated the
    application of the principle “generalia specialibus non
    30
    derogant”. The general rule to be followed in case of conflict
    between the two statutes is that the later abrogates the earlier
    one. In other words, a prior special law would yield to a later
    general law, if either of the two following conditions is satisfied:
    (i) The two are inconsistent with each other.
    (ii) There is some express reference in the later to the
    earlier enactment.
    If either of these two conditions is fulfilled, the later law,
    even though general, would prevail.”
  44. As pointed out earlier, Section 31 of the RTI Act repeals only
    the Freedom of Information Act, 2002 and not other laws. If the
    intention of the legislature was to repeal any other Acts or laws
    which deal with the dissemination of information to an applicant,
    then the RTI Act would have clearly specified so. In the absence of
    any provision to this effect, the provisions of the RTI Act cannot be
    interpreted so as to attribute a meaning to them which was not
    intended by the legislature. In the RTI Act, there is no specific
    reference to the rules framed by the various High Courts or any
    other special law excepting the Freedom of Information Act, 2002.
  45. As discussed earlier, Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court
    Rules requires a third party to the proceedings to file an affidavit and
    state the reasons for seeking access to the information or grant of
    certified copies of records and there is no inconsistency of the High
    Court Rules with the provisions of the RTI Act. The Gujarat High
    Court Rules neither prohibit nor forbid dissemination of information
    31
    or grant of certified copies of records. The difference is only insofar
    as the stipulation of filing an application/affidavit or payment of fees,
    etc. is concerned, there is no inconsistency between the two
    provisions and therefore, the RTI Act has no overriding effect over
    Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules.
  46. Ten categories of information are exempted from disclosure
    under Section 8(1)(a) to (j) of the RTI Act. Section 8(1)(j) excludes
    disclosure of personal information, the disclosure of which:- (i) has
    no relationship to any public activity or interest; or (ii) would cause
    unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual. However, in
    both the cases, the Central Public Information Officer or the
    appellate authority may order disclosure of such information, if they
    are satisfied that larger public interest justifies disclosure. This
    would imply that personal information which has some relationship
    to any public activity or interest may be liable to be disclosed. An
    invasion of privacy may be held to be justified if the larger public
    interest so warrants.
  47. The information held by the High Court on the judicial side are
    the personal information of the parties to the litigation or information
    furnished by the Government in relation to a particular case. There
    may be information held by the High Court relating to the cases
    32
    which have been obtained from the various tribunals in exercise of
    the supervisory jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 227 of the
    Constitution of India. For instance, the matters arising out of the
    orders by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, Customs Excise and
    Service Tax Appellate Tribunal and other tribunals over which the
    High Court exercises the supervisory jurisdiction. The
    orders/judgments passed by the High Court though are the
    documents which are concerned to the rights and liabilities of the
    parties to the litigation. Under Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, the
    Central Public Information Officer or the appellate authority may
    order disclosure of personal information if they are satisfied that the
    larger public interest justifies disclosure. Insofar as the High Court
    Rules are concerned, if the information or certified copies of the
    documents/record of proceedings/orders on the judicial side of the
    Court is required, all that the third party is required to do is to file an
    application/affidavit stating the reasons for seeking such
    information. On being satisfied about the reasons for requirement of
    the certified copy/disclosure of information, the Court or the
    concerned Officer would order for grant of certified copies. As
    discussed earlier, Order XIII Rule 3 of the Supreme Court Rules
    also stipulate the same procedure insofar as the third party seeking
    certified copy of the documents/records.
    33
  48. Yet another contention advanced is that the information held
    by the High Court may be furnished to the applicant by following the
    procedure under Section 11 of the RTI Act. Section 11 of the Act
    deals with third party information. As per Section 11 of the Act, if
    the requisite information or record or part thereof has been supplied
    by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third
    party, then the Central Public Information Officer or State Public
    Information Officer, as the case may be, within five days of receipt of
    the request give a written notice to such third party of the request
    and of the fact that the Central Public Information Officer or State
    Public Information Officer, as the case may be, intends to disclose
    the information or record or part thereof and invite the third party to
    make a submission in writing or orally regarding whether such
    information should be disclosed and such submission of the third
    party shall be kept in view while taking a decision about the
    disclosure of the information.
  49. We do not find any merit in the above submission and that
    such cumbersome procedure has to be adopted for furnishing the
    information/certified copies of the documents. When there is an
    effective machinery for having access to the information or obtaining
    certified copies which, in our view, is a very simple procedure i.e.
    34
    filing of an application/affidavit with requisite court fee and stating
    the reasons for which the certified copies are required, we do not
    find any justification for invoking Section 11 of the RTI Act and adopt
    a cumbersome procedure. This would involve wastage of both time
    and fiscal resources which the preamble of the RTI Act itself intends
    to avoid.
  50. We summarise our conclusion:-
    (i) Rule 151 of the Gujarat High Court Rules stipulating
    a third party to have access to the
    information/obtaining the certified copies of the
    documents or orders requires to file an
    application/affidavit stating the reasons for seeking
    the information, is not inconsistent with the provisions
    of the RTI Act; but merely lays down a different
    procedure as the practice or payment of fees, etc. for
    obtaining information. In the absence of inherent
    inconsistency between the provisions of the RTI Act
    and other law, overriding effect of RTI Act would not
    apply.
    (ii) The information to be accessed/certified copies on
    the judicial side to be obtained through the
    mechanism provided under the High Court Rules, the
    provisions of the RTI Act shall not be resorted to.
  51. In the light of aforesaid reasonings, the impugned order dated
    13.03.2014 passed by the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad in
    35
    Letters Patent Appeal No.1348 of 2013 is confirmed and these
    appeals are dismissed. We place on record the valuable assistance
    rendered by Mr. Atmaram N.S. Nadkarni as amicus.
    ..…………………….J.
    [R. BANUMATHI]
    ..…………………….J.
    [A.S. BOPANNA]
    ..……………………….J.
    [HRISHIKESH ROY]
    New Delhi;
    March 04, 2020.
    36