Draft judgment held, not a public document

Central Information Commission (CIC): While observing that the draft judgment, even if signed and exchanged is not to be considered as final judgment but only a tentative view liable to be changed, and hence cannot be sought under RTI, the CIC dismissed an appeal filed by a person seeking copies of the draft order of the Judge in a case. Earlier, an RTI query by the appellant in the matter was rejected by CPIO, Kolkata High Court stating that the appellant was seeking draft order of the Judge which was confidential and not public document. It was also stated that the photocopies of the order prior to its finalisation cannot be supplied since it had been destroyed as per the usual practice.

After hearing both the parties, CIC referred to the judgment of the Delhi High Court in Supreme Court of India v. Subhash Chandra Agarwal2010 SCC OnLine Del 111, and observed “Notes taken by the Judges while hearing a case cannot be treated as final views expressed by them on the case. They are meant only for the use of the Judges and cannot be held to be a part of a record  “held” by the public authority.” CIC further added that, “even the draft judgment signed and exchanged is not to be considered as final judgment but only tentative view liable to be changed. A draft judgment therefore, obviously cannot be said to be information held by a public authority,” and dismissed the appeal. [Milap Choraria v. CPIO, Kolkata High Court, 2016 SCC OnLine CIC 13354, decided on September 1, 2016]

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