Legislative Department of Ministry of Law & Justice directed to place amended enactments on its website

Central Information Commission (CIC): CIC has directed the Legislative Department of Ministry of Law and Justice to place the amended copies of Representation of the People Act and Motor Vehicle Rules, both in Hindi and English, on their official website. CIC noted that information about such availability should be given due publicity in their offices and on website as people in general have a right to know their law and the law should always be available in public domain in easily accessible form. CIC further noted that the law presumes that everybody knows the law, though in fact, they neither had access, nor know the language of the law nor find it easy to understand the mystery of legalese. “It is the duty of state to inform, educate and publicize the law which they want people to abide by,” CIC observed. These directions were issued by the Commission while hearing an appeal filed by a person who sought for copies of Central Motor Vehicle Rules and Representation of the People Act from the Legislative Department of Ministry of Law and Justice but was asked to visit the website of Legislative Department. Being unsatisfied, appellant approached the Commission. Before Commission, Legislative Department contended that the said legislations were also available in the open market, where they are priced at Rs. 1160 for Election Manual and Rs 704 for Motor Vehicles Act. After hearing the parties, CIC observed that it is not proper on the part of State to sell the ‘law’ at such a price. CIC noted that it is common practice of commercial publishers that even a small enactment is published as a thousand page volume adding case law to sell at a high price. The Commission directed the Legislative Department to place the legislations sought by the appellant on their official website. The Commission further directed that whenever any RTI applicant seeks these copies, he can be given the web links of those enactments. The Commission also strongly recommended that all the laws should be made available in all regional languages especially in those vernacular languages recognized in Constitution of India as soon as possible and necessary funds should be allotted for the same. While concluding the judgment, CIC noted, “There is a need to update certain frequently required enactments such as Constitution of India, Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Motor Vehicles Act, Representation of People’s Act, Right to Information Act, Public Services Act, Family law etc should be made easily available, on priority bases to the people in English, Hindi and all regional languages at a low cost either subsidized or on no profit basis.” [Srikesh Kumar v. Legislative Department, Govt. of India, 2016 SCC OnLine CIC 2216, decided on March 10, 2016]

 To read the Order, click HERE

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