AG office beyond RTI Act: CIC

Office of the Attorney General of India is not a public authority under RTI Act and, therefore, is not obliged to answer queries under the transparency law, the Central Information Commission has said.

In a landmark order, the CIC further says the AG is "sui generis" — or unique — since "he is standalone counsel of the Government of India". "He renders legal advice to the Government of India which is not binding in nature," it says. "There is a lawyer-client relationship between the AG and the Government of India and not that of servant and master."

The CIC's conclusion is based on Article 76(1) of the Constitution, which says that "the President of India shall appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed a judge of the Supreme Court to be AG of India". While this Article says "a person", Section 2(h) of RTI Act says, "Public Authority means any authority or body or institution or self governance established or constituted...."

The CIC order says, "The term 'body' or 'institution of self government' cannot be made applicable to the AG for India as AG for India is neither a 'body' nor an 'institution of self government."

The CIC bench, which had Chief Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra and Information Commissioners ML Sharma and Annpurna Dixit, took this decision on the second appeals filed by Subhash Agrawal, Ajitabh Sinha and Maniram Sharma. While there was no response on Agarwal's earlier queries, the AG office had stated on other appellants queries that "AG for India is not a public authority as per RTI Act".

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