CJI’S OFFICE FALLS UNDER RTI ACT
(As reported by PTI from New Delhi, Sept.1)
In a landmark Judgment, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday held that the Office of Chief Justice of India falls under the purview of the Right to Information Act and the details pertaining to judges’ assets could be revealed under the law.
“The CJI is a Public Authority under the Right to Information Act and the CJI holds the information pertaining to assets declaration in his capacity as Chief Justice. That office is a public authority under the Act and is covered by its provisions”, Justice S. Ravindara Bhatt said.
“Declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges is an information under Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act. The information pertaining to declaration given to the CJI and the contents of such declaration are information and subject to the provisions of the Right to Information Act,” the court said. The Court upheld the Central Information Commission’s order directing the Supreme Court to reveal information whether judges are declaring their ass4ets to the Chief Justice of India or not. On the issue whether disclosure of information was “unworkable” due to lack of clarity about the details as well as lack of security, the court said CJI can evolve uniform standards and devise relevant formats and periodicity of declaration. “These are not insurmountable obstacles. The CJI, if he deems it appropriate, may in consultation with the Supreme Court judges evolve uniform standards, devising the nature of information, relevant formats and, if required, the periodicity of declaration to be made,” the court said in its 72 page order. Emphasising the importance of the law, Justice Bhatt said the Act is the most important piece of legislation d4rafted after independence era to effectuate democracy. It may be likened to a powerful beacon, which illuminates unlit corners of state activity, and those of public authorities which impact citizens’ daily lives, to which they previously had no access,” the court said. “All power – judicial power being no exception – is held accountable in modern Constitution. Holders of power, too, are expected to live by the standards they set, interpret, or enforce, at least to the extent their office demands,” Justice Bhatt said.