CHENNAI: A court repealing its orders is not something that happens very often, but there have been a few instances in the past where a court has had to resort to this measure. Before the order by Justice P Devadass on Friday repealing his interim direction sending a rape case to mediation, the most recent instance was in September, when a division bench of the Madras High Court withdrew its directive that activists must spell out reasons for seeking information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
A division bench of Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar (now Chief Justice of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir) and Justice K Ravichandrabaabu, through their order dated September 17, had held that a person who seeks information under the RTI Act must show whether the information sought is either for his personal interest or for a public cause.
If the detail is absent or undisclosed, such query cannot be construed as one satisfying the requirement of the RTI Act, they added.
In a detailed follow up on September 20, Express analysed the order’s contradiction with the legislation, wherein a particular provision of the RTI Act itself says that the applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information.
The report set off widespread debate across the nation. Subsequently, on September 23, admitting the error, the court decided to withdraw its order stating: “We made certain general observations stating that the RTI application should contain bare minimum details or reasons for which the information is sought for. However, the said general observations were made without noticing Sec. 6(2) of RTI Act.”
Passing the orders, the bench said that they are convinced that the general observations made in the said order are against the existing provisions of the RTI Act and they have to be removed.
Besides, there has also been a case where a judge of the High Court issued an unusual gag order after one of his verdicts related to sexual relationship and marital legitimacy sparked a furore. “Without fully understanding this court’s judgment, adverse comments shall not be passed,” read the gag order two years ago.