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sidmis

RTI Act does not apply to my office: CJI

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Atul Patankar

As posted by V. Venkatesan at lawandotherthings.blogspot.com on January 7, 2008

 

A landmark decision from the CIC

The Central Information Commission's decision in Subhash Chandra Agrawal vs. Supreme Court of India, delivered on January 6 is a serious indictment of the Court's stand on the extent to which RTI Act is applicable to it. The Supreme Court, in replies to several RTI applicants (including me once), has taken the stand that the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court of India are two distinct Public Authorities and that the Registry of the Court does not hold the information requested. What is significant in this decision is that the CIC referred to the definition of the term 'Public Authority' under section 2(h) of the RTI Act, meaning any authority or body or institution of self Government established or constituted by or under the Constitution. In Para 12, the CIC decision says the Supreme Court is an institution created by the Constitution and is, therefore, a PA. In Para 13, it says, the CJI is a "Competent Authority" under Section 2(e) of the Act. The CIC explicitly rejected the contention that the provisions of RTI Act are not applicable in case of Supreme Court.

 

Another salient feature of this decision is how the CIC interpreted the word "authority" in the absence of statutory definition or judicial interpretation. It accepted the normal etymological meaning, and suggested that it is a body invested with power to command or to give an ultimate decision, or enforce obedience or having a legal right to command and be obeyed. The institution and its Head cannot be two distinct PAs, the CIC ruled.

 

Although the decision pertains to the RTI question on the declaration of assets by the Judges of High Court and the Supreme Court, it has set an important precedent to make the Higher Judiciary truly accountable. It will be unfortunate if the Supreme Court appeals against the decision in the High Court, in which case, the Judges hearing the appeal may not be able to decide the appeal objectively in view of the apparent conflict of interests.

Source : Law and Other Things: A landmark decision from the CIC

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taurus

So far so good. But there is still a long journey to go to get the actual info. There are miles to go but no one is in a hurry.

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Atul Patankar

As reported at indialawnews.com on January 7, 2009.

 

The Central Information Commissioner (CIC) has ruled that the Supreme Court is obliged to give information to an appellant who wanted to know whether the judges of the Supreme Court are furnishing the details of their assets or not.

 

Allowing the petition of one S C Agrawal, three member bench of CIC comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, Information Commissioners. A N Tiwari and Prof M M Ansari, directed the Supreme Court’s information officer to provide information asked by Mr Agrawal in his RTI application whether the judges have filed the details of their assets or not.

 

‘Since no information about the details of assets has been sought, there is no need to furnish that,’ the CIC said.

 

The CIC directed the Supreme Court to furnish the information within ten days.

 

Mr Agarwal had filed an application under the Act whether the judges under their own resolution were filing the details of their assets to the Chief Justice of India.

 

The resolution passed by the Supreme Court judges is an in-house mechanism and the declaration by judges about their assets is voluntary. The resolution itself describes submissions of such declarations as ‘confidential.’ It was submitted by the Counsel of the Apex Court that disclosures of these declarations would be breach of fiduciary relationship and the declarations are submitted to the Chief Justice of India in his personal capacity and not in his official capacity and the disclosure of declarations would be contrary to the provisions of section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act.

 

The CIC ruled that the Supreme Court is an institution created by the Constitution and, therefore, is a public authority within the meaning of section 2(h) of the Act.

 

Ruling out the Supreme Court’s claim that the CJI is exempt from the purview of the RTI, the CIC held that the status and position of the CJI is unique under the Act and is appointed under section 2(e) of the Act, which says that all those including the President, speakers of both Houses of Parliament, Chief Justice of India, Chief Justices of High Courts and an administrator appointed under article 239 of Constitution are all covered under the Act.

Source: The Central Information Commissioner (CIC) has ruled that the Supreme Court is obliged to give information to an appellant who wanted to know whether the judges of the Supreme Court are furnishing the details of their assets or not.

 

Allowing the petition of one S C Agrawal, three member bench of CIC comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, Information Commissioners. A N Tiwari and Prof M M Ansari, directed the Supreme Court’s information officer to provide information asked by Mr Agrawal in his RTI application whether the judges have filed the details of their assets or not.

 

‘Since no information about the details of assets has been sought, there is no need to furnish that,’ the CIC said.

 

The CIC directed the Supreme Court to furnish the information within ten days.

 

Mr Agarwal had filed an application under the Act whether the judges under their own resolution were filing the details of their assets to the Chief Justice of India.

 

The resolution passed by the Supreme Court judges is an in-house mechanism and the declaration by judges about their assets is voluntary. The resolution itself describes submissions of such declarations as ‘confidential.’ It was submitted by the Counsel of the Apex Court that disclosures of these declarations would be breach of fiduciary relationship and the declarations are submitted to the Chief Justice of India in his personal capacity and not in his official capacity and the disclosure of declarations would be contrary to the provisions of section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act.

 

The CIC ruled that the Supreme Court is an institution created by the Constitution and, therefore, is a public authority within the meaning of section 2(h) of the Act.

 

Ruling out the Supreme Court’s claim that the CJI is exempt from the purview of the RTI, the CIC held that the status and position of the CJI is unique under the Act and is appointed under section 2(e) of the Act, which says that all those including the President, speakers of both Houses of Parliament, Chief Justice of India, Chief Justices of High Courts and an administrator appointed under article 239 of Constitution are all covered under the Act.

 

Source: IndlawNews

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Atul Patankar

As reported by J. Venkatesan of The Hindu on January 8,2009

Chief Justice of India is not exempt from RTI: Information Commission

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Registry will file an appeal in the Delhi High Court against an order passed by the Central Information Commission asking it to provide information in the possession of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on declaration of assets by judges of the apex court and High Courts.

Sources said complying with the CIC’s January 6 directions would have far-reaching consequences and ramifications.

Its Full Commission, comprising Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Commissioners A.N. Tiwari and M.M. Ansari, directed the Supreme Court Registry to furnish to S.C. Agrawal, an applicant, information on declaration of assets as per a May 7, 1997 resolution adopted at an all-India judges conference.

The CIC rejected the Supreme Court’s contention that the CJI was not obliged to furnish such information under the Right to Information Act. Nor did the CIC agree with the plea that the Registry and the CJI’s office were independent.

Mr. Agrawal had sought from the Supreme Court information under the RTI Act and a copy of the 1997 resolution, which required every judge to make a declaration, before the CJI or the Chief Justices of High Courts concerned, of his or her assets in the form of real estate or investments held in his or her name or in the names of the spouse and any dependent person.

While his plea for a copy of the resolution was accepted, his demand for information on whether the judges declared their assets to the CJI/Chief Justices of the High Courts and if so the details thereof was rejected by the registry on the ground that it was not in its possession. At this, Mr. Agrawal moved the appellate authority, which held that such information could not be provided. He then filed an appeal before the Full Commission of the CIC.

The CIC rejected the Registry’s contention that the Supreme Court and the CJI were not bound to share such information. Admittedly, the information on the judges of the Supreme Court was available with it. As a public authority, it was obliged to provide this information to a citizen making an application under the RTI Act.

On the contention that the declaration submitted by the judges was confidential and the information was provided to the CJI and the Chief Justices of High Courts in a fiduciary relationship and as such, its disclosure was exempted under the RTI Act, the CIC said the CJI could not claim any such exemption.

The CIC agreed with the appellant’s submission that the information with the CJI could not be categorised as ‘personal information’ in his personal capacity. The Supreme Court, consisting of the CJI and other judges, was an institution and the CJI was its head.

“The institution and its head cannot be two distinct public authorities. They are one and the same. Information, therefore, available with the CJI must be deemed to be available with the Supreme Court. The Registrar, who is only a part of the Supreme Court, cannot be categorised as a public authority independent [of] and distinct from the Supreme Court itself,” the CIC said and directed the Registry to furnish the information sought in 10 days.

 

Source : The Hindu : Front Page : Chief Justice of India is not exempt from RTI: Information Commission

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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censud

Recently there has been a surge in instances of corruption in Indian judiciary as a result faith of people in Indian judicial system has shaken. Hon'ble CJI should seriosly think over option of opening judicial records to public scrutiny by way of RTI. Keeping judiciary behind the curtains of Contempts of Courts Act is not going to make judiciary more credible. A transparent judicial system will certainly contribute in the growth of Indian democracy.

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colnrkurup

Itis high time for our Parliament to enter into the issue and call a spade not only a spade but a dirty showel. Our Hon'ble CJI has already made

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sidmis

Did not seek immunity from RTI: Retiring CJI

 

as reported by Sh. Prabhakar Rao Voruganti in Express Buzz, 12 May 2010

 

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, who retired on Tuesday, said he never sought immunity for the office of the Chief Justice of India from the Right to Information Act (RTI Act). “I never sought immunity.

 

I gave replies to so many queries,” replied Justice Balakrishnan while interacting with the media in the evening. Asked if he preferred an amendment to RTI, he said, “We have problem with very, very small portion of the RTI which affects the dignity and independence of the judiciary.

 

It is misleading to read that CJI wanted immunity.” Asked whether he preferred any via media instead of impeachment, the outgoing Chief Justice commented, “That is why Judges Accountability Bill is being prepared.” To a query whether the judiciary needed a half way method to deal with errant judges, Justice Balakrishnan said, “Half way methods are not suitable for judiciary.”

 

But when it came to Justice Dinakaran, he refused to say anything, stating “I don’t want to say anything about Dinakaran as impeachment proceedings are on.” Similarly, he declined to answer a question relating to 26/11 attacker Ajmal Amir Kasab, saying, “It is a special case. Appeal will come. I don’t want to say anything.”

 

On the growing number of pending cases, he pointed out that filing was ever increasing despite a better disposal rate. Asked whether he was considering entering politics, he said: “I was in student politics."

 

Did not seek immunity from RTI: Retiring CJI

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sidmis

A related post on Hon. Ex-CJI is posted in the chit chat section here.

Uninspiring-Tenure

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colnrkurup

WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA are not that foolish as our former CJI think. He does not want to say anything about Ajmal Amir Kasabm or Dinakaran and the long list of convicts sentensed to death by the Hon'ble Supreme Court kept as State guests since many years. If he does not want to give his views at least after his retirement on these issues, why does he come to the Press ? WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA know the answer; but tongue-tied with Contempt of Court Acts.

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