Delhi High Court: A petition was filed challenging the order dated 04-11-2015 passed by the Central Information Commission (‘CIC’), whereby it was directed to the petitioner to upload all the latest amended bare Acts, examine the functionality of its E-mail ID, develop an appropriate RTI filing mechanism and to pay Rs. 10,000 under Section 19(8)(b) of the RTI Act to the library of National Law School of India University, Bengaluru. Manmohan, J., waived off the cost imposed by the CIC vide the impugned order and directed the Secretary, Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice to periodically monitor the status of uploading the Acts on the India Code portal and ensure that the process is completed seamlessly and, in a time-bound manner.
The Court vide order dated 08-09-2016 directed the Secretary, Legislative Department to ensure that the Government of India’s publications of Bare Acts were easily available. The Court called for status reports for the purpose of monitoring the progress called for periodic status reports. In pursuance to the direction of this Court India Code Portal (www.indiacode.nic.in) has been redesigned and made user-friendly. The website contains all unrepealed Central Acts and State Acts and subordinate legislations, namely, Rules, Regulations, Notifications and Orders, etc., issued under a particular Act. Most of the Ministries/ Departments have identified their subordinate legislations and have uploaded the relevant documents as PDF in a searchable format on the India Code Portal.
As per the latest status report dated 23-08-2023, the subordinate legislation has been mapped with relevant sections of the principal Acts. Till date, the total number of Central Acts that have subordinate legislation is 460, out of which mapping of the Act with relevant sections of 438 Acts has been completed and the mapping of the remaining Acts is in process. The Nodal officers of the Central Government have been reminded from time to time with the latest reminder on 10-08-2023. It is stated in the status report that till date 69 Ministries / Departments have furnished completion certificates to the Legislative Department. The updation and uploading of Central Acts and subordinate legislations is a continuous and ongoing process.
As per the status report, there are 903 unrepealed Central Acts including spent Acts which are in force from the year 1836 to 2022 which have been updated and uploaded on the India Code Portal. However, this does not include the Appropriation Acts, Finance Acts, Acts not in force and the Acts passed by the British Parliament. Out of 903 Acts currently in force, the Hindi versions of 817 Acts are available with the Correction Section in the Official Language Wing in printed form. As per the scheme of the India Code Portal, all the Central Acts are re-typed and updated from time to time and thereafter uploaded on the website but the infrastructure in the Official Language Wing is not sufficient for the said task. There is a different procedure and process for the preparation of Hindi text of Central Acts after the same is passed by the Parliament. As this process takes some time, the availability of Hindi version of Central Acts lags by one to two years in comparison to the English version. The Hindi versions of the Central Acts are available on the website of the Legislative Department at www.legislative.gov.in under the heading Official Languages Wing.
According to the Union of India, the States have been requested to expedite the updation and uploading of their Acts and subordinate legislations on the India Code Portal in a searchable PDF format after incorporating all the amendments. For this purpose, as per the directions of the Cabinet Secretariat, online training sessions have been provided to all nodal officers of the Departments/Ministries and States/Union territories Governments by the National Informatics Centre (for short ‘NIC’) in coordination with Legislative Department. The State and UT Governments have also been requested to furnish soft copies of State amendments, if any, made to Central Acts in the Concurrent List to the Legislative Department. 30 State Governments/UTs have taken requisite action in this regard, however, the States/UTs of Arunachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Mizoram, Punjab, Puducherry and Chandigarh have not yet furnished the State Amendments to Central Acts. The India Code website is accessible nationally and globally on mobile, desktop and tablet. According to the status report, the India Code website has 17, 736, 478 users across the world, 72, 353, 698 hits for the website and 71, 679, 261 pageviews.
Thus, the Court opined that the Petitioner has not only complied with the directions contained in the impugned order but has gone much beyond it and thus waived off the cost imposed by the CIC.
[Union of India v Vansh Sharad Gupta, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 5403, decided on 01-09-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Ruchir Mishra, Advocate with Mr. Mukesh Kr. Tiwari, Ms. Reba Jena Mishra, Ms. Poonam Shukla, Mr. Vipul Pathak and Mr. Ramneek Mishra, Advocates for petitioner
Mr. Rishikesh Kumar, ASC with Ms. Sheenu Priya, Mr. Sudhir Kumar Shukla, Mr. Muhammad Zaid, Mr. Sudhir and Mr. Sumit Choudhary, Advocates for GNCTD. Mr. Ketan Paul, Advocate for Mr. Jayant Bhushan, Sr. Advocate (Amicus Curiae).