PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER JOINT SECRETARY TOCHIEF OFFICER Vs. A P INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER JOINT SECRETARY TOCHIEF OFFICER
A P INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
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(1.)WHETHER denial of certified copy of Muntakhab to a person on the ground that he/she is not a legal heir of Muntakhab holder is justified under the provisions of Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act, for short)?
This interesting question of considerable significance falls for consideration in this writ petition filed by two public authorities of
Muntakhib (in Arabic) an abstract of the documents, in the older survey records system being a list of names, with the numbers of the fields held by each, (p. 844 in The Law Lexicon, P. Ramanatha Aiyar, Reprint Edition 1993 ).
Section 2 (c) of Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Atiyat Enquiries Act, 1952 defines "muntakhabs and Vasikas" as documents issued by competent authorities as a result of inam or succession enquiries held under the Dastoor-ul-Amal Inams or other Government Orders on the subject issued by way of continuance or confirmation of Atiyat grants. Revenue Administration of Government of Andhra Pradesh, namely, the Public Information Officer/joint Secretary to Chief Commissioner of Land Administration, Nampally, Hyderabad, and the Appellate Authority/secretary, Chief Commissioner of Land Administration, Nampally, Hyderabad.
(2.)SECOND respondent, Smt. Gousinnisa Begum (wrongly described as Smt. Gousinnisa Baig) filed an application before first respondent requesting for a copy of Muntakhab No. 3232 of 1304f under RTi Act. By an order dated 28. 6. 2007, first petitioner refused to give certified copy on the ground that her name does not figure in Muntakhab nor she produced legal heir certificate issued by competent civil court establishing her succession. First petitioner also opined that Muntakhab is personal in nature, that it has no bearing of public interest and it need not be disclosed. Second respondent preferred appeal before second petitioner. The same was rejected by an order dated 23. 1. 2008 in Appeal No. C3/1782/2007, on the ground that Muntakhab is not a public document. Second respondent then preferred further appeal before Andhra Pradesh Information Commission constituted under RTI Act. By order dated 02. 7. 2008, Chief Information Commissioner directed petitioners to furnish copy of Muntakhab to second respondent.
Second respondent filed counter affidavit. Her case is as follows. Sardar Begum in whose favour Muntakhab No. 3232 of 1304f issued died in 1901. In succession case No. 72 of 1344 Fasli (1934 A. D.) in file No. 38/58 of 1339 Fasli-Medak, succession enquiry was conducted. Father of second respondent, Khaja Moinuddin Khan, was declared heir of Muntakhab holder. In this background, if petitioners insist on production of legal heir certificate, it would be highly impossible as Sardar Begum died in 1901. Muntakhab is a public document as defined under Section 74 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Evidence Act, for short) and petitioners cannot deny supply of certified copy of Muntakhab.
(3.)LEARNED Special Government Pleader in the office of Advocate General submits that RTI Act impliedly prohibits issue of judgments and decrees in personam. Muntakhab being a decree or succession order issued by competent authority in favour of a person is not a public document and if any person claiming certified copy has to produce legal heir certificate. Per contra, learned Counsel for second respondent raised following contentions. Writ petition is not maintainable at the instance of public authorities whose order is set aside. Petitioners did not suffer any legal injury and no principle of natural justice is violated for seeking redressal in extraordinary public law remedy under Article 226 of Constitution of India, Muntakhab is a document in respect of which petitioners cannot claim any privilege nor supply of copy is prohibited under Section 8 of RTI Act.
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