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sidmis

RTI Act does not apply to my office: CJI

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sidmis

RTI Act does not apply to my office: Chief Justice of India

As reported in Times of India 20 Apr 2008, 0034 hrs

 

 

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Saturday refused to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s categorical statement that "corruption is another challenge we face both in government and the judiciary".

 

The CJI also clearly said that the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court should be out of the purview of RTI.

"The Chief Justice is not a public servant. He is a constitutional authority. RTI does not cover constitutional authorities," the CJI said.

 

Admitting that the issue of salaries of judges was part of the agenda of two-day conference of chief justices of high courts, he denied that any demand had been made. "When pay structures of others go up, our salary would also increase," the CJI said.

 

Earlier in the day, the PM, while inaugurating the annual conference of chief ministers and chief justices, had talked of corruption in government and judiciary. However, during the interaction with journalists later, the CJI first said that the PM was talking about corruption cases with the CBI.

Asked if he agreed or disagreed with the PM, he said, "There is no question of agreement or disagreement."

 

When journalists persisted about how well the in-house mechanism of declaring assets and liabilities is working, the CJI said, "At the time of appointment of judges in the SC they give property statement. In case they purchase any property, information is given in a sealed cover."

 

He also did not reply to a specific query about how the SC or a high court inquires in case where there is a genuine complaint against a sitting judge.

Another of PM’s suggestion, mooted by the CJI, that the Centre should invoke Article 247 to set up family courts in all states found favour with law minister H R Bhardwaj.

 

Asked if such a step would not be against the federal principle, Bhardwaj said, "The Family Act is a central act and if a noble cause is suffering, the Centre can intervene. State governments would welcome it."

Disagreement between the law minister and CJI came to fore on the issue of appointment of judges in the SC and high courts.

 

Denying that he called the collegium an "extra-constitutional authority", Bhardwaj, however, said the present system is acceptable to him only because of the nine-Bench SC order in the advocates-on-record case.

 

"Every lawyer who argued in favour of the collegium now wants the government to change it. The Constitution clearly states that appointments would be through the aid and advice of the council of ministers. But it was changed by the SC order. Parliament has all the powers to change it but this is not the time," Bhardwaj said.

 

On his part, the CJI said, "I am bound by the SC order." Bhardwaj reiterated that the Judges Inquiry Bill had not been put in cold storage. After incorporating the changes suggested by the standing committee of Parliament the Bill would be passed by the monsoon session, he said.

 

In his speech during the inaugural session, the CJI lamented that despite repeated efforts, allocation of funds for starting of new courts is not very encouraging.

 

"The budget allotment is grossly inadequate to meet the requirements of judiciary...the state should make budgetary provision for starting new courts," he said. The CJI also categorically ruled out evening courts of the Supreme Court.

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slchowdhary

No body discusses this aspect. Increase in no of judges only compounds the problem.

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colnrkurup

Dear Sidharth,

You said it. It was apt to bring out the newspaper clippings to the notice of this forum. In fact I had tyed almost the same thing but on seeing your attachment I had deleted it. WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA though helpless cannot close our eyes and ears to the view expressed by our Hon'ble Chief Justic of India. Scared of Conempt of Court Act people lioke me ae unable to open our mouth.

 

The Hon'ble CJI owes an explanation to the Nation as to what does he mean by "Misuse of RTI Act' ". According to him who is misusing it ? WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA or THE BUREAUCRATES among us ? It is impossible for an applicant to misuse the Act. He can only ask for the information He can use that information only after obtaining it. How can he say asking for an information is misuse ? He is asking only what he is entitled for strictly under the enactment made by his representatives in the Parliament.It is said to be complementary to his fundamental Rights. Will he tell the MPs not to ask questions in the Houses fully knowing that some of the questions are asked ...............!!!. If one is not eligible to get the information under RTI Act he won't get it. Further he is not getting it free. He is paying for the information he seek. One has to spent A minimum of Rs.50/- all inclusive to ask an information. Why should the Hon'ble CJI is worried about how does he use the INFORMATION SO GAINED. ? One earns one's wages by working hard. Why should the employeror the State worry about as to how does the employee/cityzen use his wages so long as it is spent for puprposes lawful in his country?

 

Greatest curse of our Nation is that the most popular media like THE hINDU" too apread disinformation on "THE MISUSE OF RTI STUNT" They are eagerly waiting for some one who matters to utter the words "Misuse of RTI Act" Are they not aware of the innumerable letters to editors on the dismal performances and unlawful orders of the Commissions sent to them by the RTI Activists

 

WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA seems forgotten that the same Hon'ble CJI, immediately on assuming office of CJI has stated that "The judges are not required to disclose their assets " or something to that effect. What does these statments mean ? We have not forgotton our former Bachelor Prime Minister insisting that the PM' should be brought under the "Lokpal Bill". There is a saying in malyalam that "only those having a boil at his back is scared to cross through the fense" or "Only those who are having money in their purse are afraid of thiefs enroute" etc.

 

I request our Hon'ble CJI to arrange to give to WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA "Contempt of Courts Act Holiday" for one month and watch the Pindora's box of so called Calpurnias.

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sidmis

Hello Col. Kurup,

 

 

The Chief Justice is not a public servant.

He is a constitutional authority. RTI does not cover constitutional authorities, the CJI said.

 

 

What do you think of it?

 

Who are the other Constitutional Authorities which should be exempted as per Hon. CJI's interpretations?

 

A really disturbing trend indeed.

 

 

Sidharth

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karira

sidmis,

 

As far as the RTI Act 2005 is concerned, we should just be worried about the definition of "Public Authority" as defined in Sec 2(h):

 

h)"public authority" means any authority or body or institution of self- government established or constituted— a)by or under the Constitution;

b)by any other law made by Parliament;

c)by any other law made by State Legislature;

d)by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any—

1body owned, controlled or substantially financed;

2non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;

 

 

The constitutional posts at the Centre (and also similar posts in the States) like President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Council of Ministers, CJI, Attorney General, CAG, etc. are set up under the Constitution - which is covered by 2(h)(a) above. The individual occupying the above post may not be covered under the RTI Act, but the post he is occupying must be having a office, which should be covered under the RTI Act.

 

The other argument is that if the PMO and the Presidents' Office are covered under RTI, then CJI should also be covered.

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colnrkurup

For the time being I prefer not to disuss on the defenition of Constitutional Authority. As Mr.Karira has correctly brought, out as for as RTI Act is conmcerned we are not bothered about the so called Constitutional Authorities themselses. We are concerned with the Office of such constitutional Authorities and their activities only. That is good enough for us. For Eg. nothing stops us from asking the PIO of CJI the date on which a particular case was referred to his office. I don't think the CJI can object this. Similarly he cannot claim that being a constitutional authority audit of his accounts should not be carried out by the C&AG. There are always ways and means to sort out such problems when need arise.

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taurus

Mr. Karira is correct. The Act does not exempt 'constitutional authorities'. But the CJI has said so, says the report reproduced.

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karira

This reminds of me a similar situation (I think discussed in some other thread on this forum) when the office of a Chief Minister said that they are not a PA because they do not keep any records.

 

PA is not defined based on whether there are any "records" or "information" in the office. Its based on the definition in Sec 2(h). In any case, the CM's office is generally staffed by dozens of people. What are they doing ? If there are no "records", no "electronic records", no "information", no "paper" then what is going on in that office ?

At least they must be having a attendance register in the office. Even that is a "record" and some citizen can ask for it.

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aamaadmi

Dear Friends,

It should not have been, but it happened. I think the CJI uttered the unacceptable opinion, which was only slip of tongue. Like the advice of Ex PM Atal to learned Advocate Jethmalani, Silence is often valuable that Mr Jethmalni should adopt.

 

I had sent an email to SC and got the reply that the Asstt Registrar is the PIO and IPO of Rs 10/- in the name of the Registrar is to b sent with RTI application. This means that the SC entertains RTI application. Why this contradiction?

aamaadmi

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TSBehera

If RTI Act does not apply to his office why RTI Rules framed forHigh Courts notifying PIO/FAA.I am talking seeing the RTI Portalof Orissa High Court which is not separate from Supreme court or the honorable CJI!

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colnrkurup

A cursory look at all such statements of Hon'ble CJI from the very date of his assuming office will state that IT WAS NOT AT A SLIP OF TONGUE. It is his firm convictions and oipinion.

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slchowdhary

Happy to learn that the whole RTI team is in harmony and ready to take it on. Kaun Kehta Hai asmaan men Chhed Nahin Ho Sakta.Ke Pathar to Tabiyat Se Uchhalo Yaro.

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colnrkurup

Now let us examine as to what does one mean by Constitutional Authority ? As fr as my little knowledge goes it is those authorities whose duties and responsibilities are specified in our Constitution. For Eg. The Comptroller & Auditor General of India. This does not mean that they are outside the ambit of the Constitution for all other purpose . They are defenitely not outside the ambit of our Constitution. Every Acts and Rules made under the Constitution is equally binding on them like any other cityzen. As I had said elsewhere, a person claiming to be a Constitutional Authority cannot claim that the Indian Penal Code is not pplicable to him.

Similarly the RTI Act made under the Constitution of India is equally applicable to the CJI. If Hon'ble CJI is outside the RTI Act does claim that the IPC oir CrPC or even his own Contempt of Courts Acts are also not applicable to him. ?

 

NO SIR !!! EACH AND EVERY ACT/RULES ENACTED BY OUR PARLIAMENT BY VIRTUE OF THE POWERS ENTRUSTED TO IT BY OUR CONSTITUTION IS EQUALLY APPLICABLE TO EACH AND EVERY CITYZEN OF WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA.

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opsharma

CJI is a constitutioal authority ,but his office is not.Any authority whose designation/post is mentioned in the Constitution of india,clearly defining duties and responsibilities,is known as constitutional authority.Some of the constitutional authorities have already been mentioned in above posts of this thread.

Like I have already mentioned in some other thread today,its a matter of time and you will see RTI engulfing every post -constitutional or otherwise.

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karira

As reported by PTI on ndtv.com on 21 April 2008:

NDTV.com: Speaker disagrees with CJI's views on RTI

Speaker disagrees with CJI's views on RTI

 

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Monday disagreed with Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan's views that the Right the Information Act was not applicable to his office.

 

''I am not questioning the Chief Justice. He is a high constitutional functionary. But since you ask me, I feel we should not keep anything back from people,'' he told reporters when asked about the CJI's views.

 

Chatterjee said in a democracy people occupy the central position and insisted that once such information is denied, then ''there is scope for speculation which may affect the credibility of the institution''.

 

Disputing Balakrishnan's views that Constitutional functionaries are not covered under the RTI, he said ''everything is under the Constitution or should be under the Constitution. The question is whether people are entitled to know.''

 

''The Constitutional position of people's right to know has been recognised under the RTI Act,'' he said noting that it has been brought for the purpose of enforcement.

 

The refrain of the Speaker, who has been forthright in airing his views on judicial activism, was that ''we should not keep anything back from people'' as they have the right to know in a democracy.

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colnrkurup

There is a Supreme Court judement saying tht they are public servants. Whatever he claim, as per laws of this Country the CJI is a public servant. He is not taken out of the purview of any of the enactments made under the constitution.

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karira

As reported by Dhananjay Mahapatra of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 22 April 2008:

Is the CJI a public servant?-India-The Times of India

Is the CJI a public servant?

 

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan's contention that the CJI was not a public servant but a constitutional authority flies in the face of a 1991 ruling by a five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court which held that all judges of the apex court and high courts were "public servants".

 

Justice Balakrishnan recently said, "The Chief Justice is not a public servant. He is a constitutional authority. RTI does not cover constitutional authorities." This assertion appears contrary to the ruling of the five-judge Bench, which by a 4:1 majority, held that "a judge of the high court or the Supreme Court is a 'public servant' within the meaning of Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act".

 

The RTI Act had not been conceived at that time and the SC could not debate whether a person categorised as public servant under PC Act would retain his classification under the RTI Act.

 

In the judgment given on July 25, 1991, the apex court had rejected the plea of a former HC chief justice, K Veeraswamy, seeking quashing of criminal proceedings initiated against him by the CBI for accumulating disproportionate assets during his tenure as CJ.

 

Justices K J Shetty, B C Ray, L M Sharma and M N Venkatachalliah unanimously came to the conclusion that all judges of the superior courts were "public servants".

 

Justice J S Verma dissented. "A judge or chief justice of a high court is a constitutional functionary, even though he holds a public office and in that sense, he may be included in the wide definition of a public servant."

 

He said that as there was no authority nominated in the PC Act to sanction prosecution of SC and HC judges, they could not be classified as public servants under the anti-corruption law.

 

The majority did not agree with Justice Verma. They said for sanctioning prosecution of a judge of the Supreme Court or high court in a corruption case, the President would be the competent authority, though no criminal case would be registered without first consulting the chief justice of the court where the judge was working.

 

"If the Chief Justice of India himself is the person against whom allegations of criminal misconduct are received, the government shall consult any other judge or judges of the Supreme Court," the majority verdict said.

 

 

 

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sidmis

Speaker: CJI office not out of RTI purview

As reported in Yahoo News on Tue, Apr 22 03:35 AM

 

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Monday registered his disagreement with the view held by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan that the Right to Information (RTI) Act is not applicable to his office.

 

The Speaker, who has never minced words while articulating his views on issues like judicial activism and judicial interference in the domain of the legislature, was equally candid on the RTI application on the CJI while talking to reporters. He said:

 

"I am not questioning the Chief Justice, he is a high constitutional functionary." "Since you are asking me as a constitutional functionary, I feel nothing should be held back from people, except, of course, when it is something related to security," he said.

 

People, the Speaker said, were central to a democratic set-up and if information was denied, there was a scope for speculation which might affect the credibility of the institution.

 

Chatterjee did not accept the position taken by CJI Balakrishnan that constitutional authorities are not covered by the RTI. He said, "Everything is under the Constitution or should be under the Constitution. The question is whether people are entitled to know."

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opsharma

"Everything is under the Constitution or should be under the Constitution. The question is whether people are entitled to know"

That is the BIG QUESTION?

As for public authority, RTI Act 2005 sec2h(a) cannot be more explicit.

As for constitutional authority,privelege is wrt removal from office.And impeachment is most difficult nay impossible to achieve,as was witnessed in justice Veeraswami's case for whom Mr Kapil Sibal argued in parliament,regarding corruption charges.

The more,these "constitutional authorities" resist to transparency,the more unnecessory and avoidable speculations will arise as to their working ethics and may be personal integrity -an extremely undesirable situation considering Judiciary is still highly trusted by people ,unlike the other two branches,Legislative and executive which have sunk to the pits.

In my opinion,its time for the Judiciary to take this bold and courageous step to lead and embrace RTI,and let guilty and corrupt suffer for their misdeeds.

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colnrkurup

Our Hon'ble speaker has already clarified the issue thread-bare. How can a public servant whoever it may be can say to the Nation that he is not under an Act enacted by the Houses of our Parliament ? Even our Presidents have not claimed that they are not lawabiding cityzen of India. It call for urgent intervention by our Parliament. This mockery on the law enacting forum warrant more than a cursory remarks by the Hon'ble Speaker. Please think of a suitable information to be asked to the CPIO of the CJI's Office. Let us see whether the reply that the RTI Act is not binding on CJI's office.

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slchowdhary

We should rather ask hon'ble CJI, through an RTI, which are the laws applicable to his office and which are not.

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colnrkurup

Every law enacted by our Parliament is appliable to every cityzen of India. There are many law enforcing authorities to see that the cityzen abide by he laws enacted by the Parliament. Every law start with a proclamation that "It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir" It means it exends to every CITYZEN of that region.

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aamaadmi

There has been universal criticism/condemnation of the CJI's views on RTI applicability,

 

aamaadmi

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