The Madras High Court has asked the Information Commission to consider dedicating a couple of hours a day to deal with queries related to Covid-19. The bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy refrained from passing a writ of mandamus for amendment to the law to the petitioner’s prayer that a time limit should be set to decide first and second appeals and complaints under the Right to Information Act.
The petitioner prayed that additional benches of Information Commissions be constituted at the state level to respond to Covid related issues. The state commission informed the court that for the past one year, the Commission carries out one special sitting every Tuesday to deal exclusively with urgent matters. The court suggested that both at the Centre and state level the Commissions can take up matters on the virtual mode upon indicating an e-filing system to deal with Covid related matters at least for three or four hours a day.
The court also urged people to be careful in not diverting the attention of an employee from his main duties to attend to RTI queries only. The court directed that the order be communicated to the Central Information Commission as well as State Information Commission to consider the matter and communicate its decision to the petitioner within 7 days.
The court refused to pass a writ of mandamus to direct any legislation or amendment to the law.