Court stays order to make president’s donations public


New Delhi : A division bench of Delhi High Court Friday stayed its single judge’s order ruling that donations made by the President of India out of public funds do not pertain to his or her personal information, and come under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

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The bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued notice to RTI applicant Nitish Kumar Tripathi, seeking his response by Aug 24.

Justice Vipin Sanghi June 14 dismissed a petition by the president’s secretariat challenging the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) May 4 order directing it to disclose donations made by the president.

The CIC’s order came on Tripathy’s plea, filed in June 2011, seeking information relating to the donations given by the president from “time to time”.

The division bench stayed the single judge’s order upholding the CIC’s direction to the president’s secretariat to make public the names of recipients of the donation, besides their address and the sum of donation given by the president.

In its appeal, the president’s secretariat sought quashing of the single judge’s June 14 order saying “disclosure of informations has no relationship to any public activity or interest. The impugned order is erroneous and liable to be set aside”.

“The CIC had directed disclosure of informations without first coming to the conclusion that larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information,” the appeal said.

Justice Sanghi, dismissing the plea of president’s secretariat, ordered details on disbursement of presidential funds between 2004-11 to be made public.

“The donations made by the President of India cannot be said to relate to personal information of the president. It cannot be said that the disclosure of the information would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of either the President of India or the recipient of the donation,” he observed.

The court had made it clear that the president also came under the RTI Act. “The President of India is not immune from the application of the act.”

The court had also ruled that the donations made by the president were out of public money.

“Every citizen is entitled to know as to how the money, which is collected by the state from him by exaction has been utilised. Merely because the person making the donations happens to be the President of India, is no ground to withhold the said information,” the court had said.