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10th August 2010

Former Pathak Scholar secures landmark Indian ruling

Congratulations to Chetan Gupta (2007, Law), who has made news in India after securing a landmark ruling in a legal case relating to the application of the Indian Right to Information Act to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Central government organisations, such as the Indian Army, which are based in the state had previously been covered by an immunity clause which meant they did not have to disclose information applied for under the RTI Act.

Now the Delhi High Court has ruled that such establishments are not exempted from the transparency law and are obligated to disclose information to the family of those posted in the state.

Mr Gupta was appearing on behalf of a widowed mother who had sought information about how her son, an officer serving with the Army in Jammu and Kashmir, died. He was alleged to have committed suicide, but suspicions arose that he may have been murdered after uncovering corruption.

Mr Gupta appeared pro bono – not only because of the facts of the case, but also, he said, “because I feel very strongly about transparency and the free dissemination of information as key bulwarks in a democratic society.” As he explained: were the government’s argument to be taken to its logical conclusion, any ministry could refuse requests by relocating all their records to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Hundreds of applications which were denied on this basis will now have to be allowed.

Chetan Gupta came to Exeter as a Pathak Scholar. He has worked with Mr. Harish N. Salve, former Solicitor General of India, who is widely considered to be India’s leading silk. He has been in purely private practice since April 2009.

This case is Mr Gupta’s first reported judgement, and it has been reported inĀ The Indian Express, a leading national daily.

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