In a major relief to J&K Bank, the High Court on Tuesday stayed the order of State Information Commission which had declared the bank as “public authority” under J&K Right to Information Act.

A bench of Justice J P Singh passed the order on a petition filed by J&K Bank Limitedchallenging the order of the SIC.

 Observing that the “provisions of RTI Act, 2009 raise important issues vis-à-vis their interpretation” the court held: “It was appropriate to implead the state which has promulgated the Act as a party respondent to the petition.”

High Court grants interim stay to JK Bank

“The state of Jammu and Kashmir through Commissioner Secretary to Government Law Department is, therefore, impleaded as respondent no. 4 in the writ petition,” the court directed.

Advocate General, M I Qadiri who was present in the court accepted notice for the state government while Syed Nasrullah, respondent number 2 sought time to file response.

Counsel for the JK Bank, Z A Shah argued that the Bank is not a public authority as such the provisions of the Act are not applicable to it.

He argued that the bank is an autonomous body with 47 per cent shares held by the people. “It has not been created under any Act of legislature nor has it been created under any notification or order of the government,” he pleaded.

He said the shares of the government in the bank are in the nature of an ‘investment’ and the government is receiving dividends on the investment.

Notably the SIC on April 24, 2012 had ruled that J&K Bank is a “Public Authority” within the meaning of Section 2 (f) of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009.

The Commission, accordingly had directed the Bank to designate first appellate authority/ authorities, Public Information Officer/Officers and Assistant Public Information Officer/Officers as provided under section 5 of the Act.

It had further directed the Bank to forward complaints of the private respondents to the Public Information Officers concerned to dispose of the applications in accordance with the Act.

The chairman of the Bank had been directed by the State Information Commission to ensure implementation of provisions of Section 4 of the Act.