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  1. Critical Analysis of Supreme Court Judgements on the RTI Act, 2005 By Shailesh Gandhi, Former Central Information Commissioner Judgment: Manohar s/o Manikrao Anchule vs. State of Maharashtra AIR 2013 SC 681 The issue before the Court: It was a case where disciplinary action had been recommended against the PIO under Section 20 (2) of the Act by the Information Commission. The observations of the Court: Para 11. The impugned orders do not take the basic facts of the case into consideration that after a short duration the appellant was transferred from the post in question and had acted upon the application seeking information within the prescribed time. Thus, no default, much less a negligence, was attributable to the appellant. 12. Despite service, nobody appeared on behalf of the State Information Commission. The State filed no counter affidavit.” The Court held that: The Commission’s order recommending disciplinary action against the PIO under Section 20 (2) of the Act, was quashed and set aside. Our analysis of the judgment: The Supreme Court having regard to the factual matrix of the case, set aside the decision of the Commission and the High Court. Can this be a legitimate exercise in SLP jurisdiction or in Writ jurisdiction by High Courts ? The eleven judge bench of the Supreme Court in Hari Vishnu Kamath v. Ahmad Ishaque 1955-IS 1104 : ((S) AIR 1955 SC 233) has laid down that – (1) Certiorari will be issued for correcting errors of jurisdiction; (2) Certiorari will also be issued when the Court or Tribunal acts illegally in the exercise of its undoubted jurisdiction, as when it decides without giving an opportunity to the parties to be heard, or violates the principles of natural justice; (3) The court issuing a writ of certiorari acts in exercise of a supervisory and not appellate jurisdiction. One consequence of this is that the court will not review findings of fact reached by the inferior court or tribunal, even if they be erroneous. (4) An error in the decision or determination itself may also be amenable to a writ of certiorari if it is a manifest error apparent on the face of the proceedings, e.g., when it is based on clear ignorance or disregard of the provisions of law. In other words, it is a patent error which can be corrected by certiorari but not a mere wrong decision." The RTI Act does not have any provision for an appeal beyond the Commission as per Section 23. The Writ jurisdiction being a Constitutional remedy, may be resorted only in cases as set out hereinbefore in Hari Vishnu Kamath’s case. If the Order of the Commission does not fall into any of the 4 criterion stated in the aforesaid ruling, the High Courts and the Apex Court should not exercise their Writ or SLP jurisdiction. The judgment of the Supreme Court is based on its own assessment of the “facts of the case” which is not consistent with the decision in aforesaid Hari Vishnu Kamath and also series of rulings of the Apex Court, wherein it is held that, in SLP jurisdiction the Apex Court would not interfere in finding of facts, unless perversity in finding of fact is demonstrated. In the present case, there is no finding by the Apex Court that findings of the Commission was perverse or irrational. It appears the court has treated this is an appeal, for which it has no jurisdiction. satyamevajayate.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Analysis-of-Supreme-Court-judgments-on-RTI.pdf
  2. AHMEDABAD: Three judges appointed in Gujarat Education Institutions Services Tribunal by the state government to judge on service conditions like promotion and remuneration issues have not been paid salary and allowances for nearly a year. This information was provided by the Tribunal's office last month in response to an application under the RTI Act filed by advocate Vinod Pandya. Retired judge of city civil court D V Zala was appointed as president of the tribunal, whereas retired principal district judge G N Patel and retired IAS officer S A Gholakia in May last year. Read at: Education tribunal judges not paid salaries for a year - The Times of India
  3. Himachal high court judges to make assets public as posted in Taragana.Com reported By IANS May 19th, 2010 SHIMLA - Judges of the Himachal Pradesh High Court will declare their assets to the public Friday, Chief Justice Kurian Joseph said here Wednesday. “All the 11 judges in the high court would be declaring their assets May 21. The list of the assets would be posted on the official website of the court for scrutiny. It would be updated every financial year,” he said. A decision to declare assets was unanimously taken by all the judges at a meeting chaired by acting Chief Justice R.B. Mishra in August last year. Justice Joseph, who was sworn in as chief justice Feb 8 this year, announced soon after assuming charge that he was in favour of judges making their assets public. Besides the Supreme Court, the high courts of Kerala, Karnataka, Delhi and Punjab and Haryana have publicly declared the details of assets and properties of serving justices. Himachal high court judges to make assets public
  4. As reported in zeenews.com on 16 February 2009: No records of complaints against High Court judges Supreme Court claims holds no records of complaints against High Court judges New Delhi, Feb 16: Does the Supreme Court keep no record of complaints received against High Court judges? Well, this seems to be the case as the apex court has refused to disclose such information to a RTI applicant claiming that such complaints "are not held by or under the control of Supreme Court of India ", an argument upheld by the Central Information Commission. The case pertains to the RTI query of Shruti Singh Chauhan who sought details from the apex court of the "List of all complaints received against judges or staff of different high courts" between April 1, 2003 to March 31, 2007. She had requested the public information officer of the apex court to forward the application to the appropriate authority in case the information was not held by the SC. The apex court in its reply said "...complaints against Judges of the high Court or staff of different High Courts are not held by or under the control of the Supreme Court of India and hence your request cannot be acceded to." Her appeal against the decision also failed to evoke any positive reply as the First Appellate Authority of the SC held "In the absence of anything to show that the authority who was holding such information was within the knowledge of CPIO Supreme Court, I am not inclined to accept the argument that the CPIO ought to have exercised his powers...RTI Act, 2005."
  5. Atul Patankar

    Bringing judiciary under RTI ?

    THE VITAL ‘Wealth-declaration, conduct-code by judges’ issue raised through Right To Information (RTI) petitions has made the Union cabinet give its nod to include them in the forthcoming ‘Judges Enquiry Bill 2008’ which aims at empowering the common man. It now gives every Indian citizen the power to file complaints against judges of higher courts before a high-powered National Judicial Council. Supporters of this landmark judgment must ensure that the Bill does not lapse like many good Bills earlier. It would also be wise if the National Judicial Council could include retired judges of Supreme Court acting as member-nominees of president, prime minister, Opposition Leader, chief justice of India and Bar association with central vigilance commissioner as ex-officio member. The serving judges are already overburdened with work.
  6. No record of judges’ education as reported by Rakesh Lohumi, Tribune News Service Shimla, September 30,2008 Incredible it may sound, but it is true. No record of educational qualification of judges is being maintained by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice, the Supreme Court or various high courts. The Department of Justice doesn’t even get the certificates verified from the educational institutions concerned. This information has been procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by Dev Ahshish Bhattacharya, who filed an applications with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs seeking information about the percentage of marks obtained by sitting judges from matriculation onwards, name of the college and university. He had also raised a query whether or not their certificates were got verified from the boards and universities concerned by the Department of Justice. The ministry informed him that the entire process of initiation of proposal for appointment of a judge of the Supreme Court lay with the Chief Justice of India and in case of high court judges, with the Chief Justice concerned. As such, the records would be available with these courts and accordingly the application was transferred to the registrar of Supreme Court and the registrar of the Delhi High Court. Responding to the application, the registrar of the apex court said the appointment of judges were made by the President of India as per the procedure prescribed by law and the issues relating thereto were not dealt with and handled by the registrar. The information sought was neither maintained, nor available in the registry. Bhattacharya field an appeal to the appellate authority for transfer of application to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, as the reply to his application indicated that the records might be available there. The response of the appellate authority was that central public information officer (CPIO) had not informed that the records were available at Rashtrapati Bhawan and so the question of transferring the application did not arise. He said he had no reason to disagree with the stand taken by the CPIO that information sought by him was neither maintained, nor available with him. Bhattacharya said if all information regarding IAS, IPS and other officers could be made available on the website of the ministries concerned, there was no reason for not doing so in case of judges. He said the Ministry of Law and Justice, the Supreme Court and various high courts should put the complete profile of the sitting judges on their respective websites. The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Himachal Pradesh Edition
  7. People losing faith in law of the land as reported in CNN-IBN New Delhi: In a rare verdict by the Delhi High Court, two of the country's top criminal lawyers, R K Anand and I U Khan have been held guilty of colluding with witness Sunil Kulkarni in the high-profile BMW hit-and-run case. The court observed, "There is no doubt that there was complicity between Mr Khan and Mr Anand and that Mr Kulkarni as aware of it. We are left with no doubt that Mr Anand was a key player in interfering and obstructing the course of justice." The Delhi High Court has barred Anand and Khan from practicing for four months apart from the fine that is to be paid as punishment. The Delhi District lawyers went into a daylong strike to support the two senior lawyers. The debate in the legal circles is whether the court has the authority to suspend the licences of lawyers. An eminent senior Advocate, KTS Tulsi has expressed shock over why the court has not utilized the audiovisual proofs to send the duo to prison. People's faith in the country's judiciary is on the ebb and the people need to know if – Is it possible to manipulate judgments in our country? CNN-IBN asked that question on Thursday on its show Face the Nation. On the panel, to debate the question were former judge of Supreme Court, U C Banerjee, senior lawyer Harish Salve and convenor, National Campaign for People's Right to Information, Shekhar Singh. U C Banerjee denied that any such nexus between the judiciary and the manipulators of law exists at all. Judging the Judges "It is mere gossip. A judge will not do any such thing to bring down the judiciary," U C Banerjee said. Harish Salve was of the opinion that Banerjee was not at fault for his vision of the judiciary…after all he is one of the finest judges that adorned our benches. But Salve emphasized that given the very high percentage of people who said yes, it is easy to manipulate judgments, it cannot be completely baseless. "I will not give a carte blanche statement that judges cannot be corrupt…I have seen some very odd judgments in my time," said Salve. It is not as though every judge is corrupt but the credibility of the system is not what it used to be, he added. Salve recollected the time when society had zero tolerance for such instances and the accused would hang their head in shame. "But society has now accepted corruption as a part of life," lamented Salve. "There are good judges and there are bad judges," said Shekhar Singh, stating that his team working on the issue of Right to Information (RTI) Act could do with seeing some more transparency in the system. "There is a consistent effort to make sure that the RTI Act does not apply to High Court and Supreme Court judges," he added. Judges above Law? Banerjee felt that Judges hold some constitutional powers and a constitutional authority cannot be prosecuted without the sanction of the highest judicial body in the country, namely the Chief Justice of India. Salve, in the latter part of the show expressed that there are disgruntled elements in every judgment, the one who loses the case. If every case was open for questioning then the judiciary cannot function, he felt. "The errant judges must be punished. There is no doubt about this that those at fault will definitely have to be appropriately dealt with in accordance with the law," said U C Bannerjee. Judiciary, resembling Political arena In a particular case two years ago, a court in Gujarat had issued bailable arrest warrants against the then serving President of the country. Isn't that a manipulation of courts or is it a simple case of influence finding its way? "If the court has ordered it, the court must have justifiable reasons for that and if the court has ordered it, I have nothing more to add or to say," commented Banerjee. There have been talks of middlemen, cash exchanging hands and people currying favours even in the judicial circles. Has the judiciary begun to increasingly resemble the already sullied political field? "Allegations have surfaced and I would not say that they are entirely baseless. Judges are as much a part of the civil society as you and me," Salve offered. "One bad judgment and it sullies the image. It takes a million efforts to build an image and one blow like the BMW sting case to destroy the faith. The judiciary is the last resort in the quest for justice. What happens to the people's faith after such cases surface? "It is tragic but I am not totally shocked," said a pragmatic Singh. "What shocked me is the leniency of the sentence. It seems that if you belonged to a privileged fraternity, you can get away with murder. Even more shocking is the support the legal fraternity is giving to the people the court has punished," Singh added about the Delhi District Lawyers Association support to Anand and Khan. And the solution: "We need a judicial commission which strikes a balance and the errant judges can be brought to book," said Salve. But that would be like having a corrective setup over the judiciary. So Salve added, "A system that has a corrective machinery is a stronger system and that in fact is a sign of strength and not of weakness." Salve said this in supplement to his earlier comments that we have become a soft society and had recalled a time when indictment by the High Court, let alone the punishment, would be such a censure that a person would have no place to hide his face. "There was a time when a client came to you and requested you to study and contest his case. But now people come to lawyers with cases and ask outright but discreetly, if the lawyer knows any fixer or middleman to plug the jury," Salve said. So if we want a judiciary that is spotless, the society will also have to evolve from within because the two feed on each other's acts. So that brings us to our question of the day: Is it possible to manipulate judgments in our country? While the jury is still out on that one, the people's disillusionment is clear and in need of a fix. http://www.ibnlive.com/news/people-losing-faith-in-law-of-the-land/71814-3.html
  8. As reported by Statesman News Service in thestatesman.net on 02 June 2008: The Statesman Debate over Right to Information Act BHUBANESWAR, June 1: A seemingly innocuous note from the chief minister's office to the parliamentary affairs department requesting the concerned officer to seek views of the designated public information officer of the High Court has triggered a debate on whether it is a violation of statutory provisions under the Right to Information Act or not. Reliable sources said Mr Janardhan Samantray, an applicant for information had requested for proceedings and procedure regarding consideration of appointment of Orissa High Court judges. His application was rejected by the concerned PIO. Mr Samantary moved an appeal to the appellate authority which in this case was an officer of the parliamentary affairs department. Mr Samantray claimed that his appeal on grounds that the information sought for does not come under any exempt category was upheld by the appellate authority. But instead of providing the information or opting for procedures to set the order aside, the CMO advised the PIO of parliamentary affairs department to seek views of the PIO of Orissa High Court and act accordingly. This is, in fact, a violation of the RTI Act, charged rights activist Mr Biswapriya Kanungo. The law is clear, once an order to provide necessary information is given by the concerned statutory authority, the options for the concerned office is to give the information or to challenge it before the information commission. One cannot adopt a mid path and say that providing the information will depend on the views of the PIO of the High Court, he remarked.
  9. Are judges holidaying at public expense? Reported by Meetu Jain / CNN-IBN on Tue, May 20, 2008 at 20:09, in Nation section BENDING RULES? An RTI application shows how judges have gone for holidays at government expense. New Delhi: The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, KG Balakrishnan, wants judges to be kept out of the purview of the Right To Information (RTI) Act. Now an RTI application put in by CNN-IBN has thrown up interesting details of how judges have been traveling abroad, often for personal holidays at government expense. Ironically the urge to travel starts at the top. Balakrishnan, after taking over as Chief Justice, made at least seven trips abroad in 2007 traveling First Class with his wife with the air fare alone costing over Rs 39 lakh. For instance, during his 11-day trip to Pretoria, South Africa in August 2007, the Chief Justice took the following route - Delhi, Dubai, Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Capetown, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, where the judge finally didn't go and returned via Dubai to Delhi. The air fare alone cost Rs 5.70 lakh and did not include the stay, TA, DA or Entertainment Allowance. Entertainment Allowance itself was over Rs 80,000. Government rules permit travel only by the shortest route, yet the Prime Ministers Office, which sanctions these trips, did not ask why the Chief Justice wanted to go to tourist destinations like Nelspruit, Capetown or Victoria Falls. Union Law Minister HR Bhardwaj says, " They also need comfort, they also need to go out. Why they should be deprived of it.'' And what about government rules that say judges cannot be accompanied by wives on work tours? "How can you deprive the wife? You are a woman. You should understand," Bhardwaj tells the CNN-IBN correspondent. Former chief justice YK Sabharwal's foreign travel was no different. The judge attended three conferences in 2005 to Edinburgh, Washington and Paris. While the conferences lasted 11 days, Sabharwal was out for 38 days with 21 days converted into a private visit. The travel plan includes a detour from Washington to Baltimore, Orlando and Atlanta, before rejoining the conference route in Paris. The First Class air fare for Sabharwal entire trip was paid by the Central government. The other judges too have traveled abroad costing the exchequer huge sums of money. Supreme Court judges Justices PP Naolekar and AK Mathur could not find a direct flight to Bangkok in November 2007. Are judges holidaying at public expense?
  10. "Political affiliations considered in appointment of judges" New Delhi (PTI): Besides the judicial calibre, political affiliations are a factor in the appointment of Supreme Court and High Court judges, the government has said in response to an RTI application. The reply came in respect to a Right to Information application of Delhi resident Subhash Chandra Agrawal who had sought from the President's Secretariat details on eligibility requirement of judges of the apex court and the high courts. Agrawal's application, which also asked whetherpolitically active persons having contested polls on a ticket of a recognised political party were considered unbiased and fit for appointment as judges of SC and HCs, was forwarded to the Law Ministry. "The appointment of a person with political affiliations /leanings are kept in view and given due consideration by the Constitution Authorities. However, judicial calibre is of prime importance ...," the Ministry said in its reply. Dissatisfied over being denied a specific reply to his question, Agrawal, thereafter moved the Central Information Commission (CIC). Disposing of the applicant's plea, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in a recent order noted that the Ministry was clear in its reply that a person who had contested the polls was eligible to be a judge of the Supreme Court or High Courts. The Ministry during its hearing before the CIC stood by its earlier response in which it said that although political affiliations of a person were considered in appointment of judges of the higher judiciary, approving the fitness of a person in that regard was the "prerogative of constitutional authorities associated in the due process." The Hindu News Update Service
  11. MUMBAI: Sixty-four judges of Bombay High Court disposed of over 1.3 lakh cases in 2006, with Justice Abhay Oka settling the most number of cases according to the result of a Right to Information (RTI) query. The RTI has made it possible to know, for the first time, how many cases each judge disposes of. While in the past, the court has released figures for the total number of cases settled in one year, no figures were released for the number of cases each individual judge had worked on. The highest number of disposals in 2006 were made by Justice Oka (7,060), followed by Justice A M Khanwilkar (4,281), Justice S C Dharmadhikari (4,119), Justice D D Sinha (3,688), Justice F I Rebello (3,521) and Justice B R Gavai (3,616). A senior lawyer said, "The quantity of disposals may be high for some judges and relatively low for others, but what matters most is the quality of the cases and the issues that were decided." Another counsel noted that a lower disposal figure is not necessarily indicative of less work done, because some cases need hearings that may last for days or even months. According to the statistics, 1,39,183 cases were disposed of by 64 HC judges in 2006, which works out to an average of 2,178 cases per judge. However, the court's strength was not at 64 for the whole year, with two judges being appointed in February and six as late as August and one judge retiring in July. RTI figures reveal that of the 54 judges appointed before last year, 22 disposed of less than 2,000 cases in 2006. Seven judges had a disposal rate of less than 1,000. "This was because one of them retired and most of the others served for less than four months," a HC source said. The exhaustive list of disposals by individual judges, a copy which is with TOI, was made available by the deputy registrar of the HC after RTI activist Shailesh Gandhi filed a query asking for the names of the judges and their respective disposals. 64 HC judges cleared 1.3 lakh cases in 2006-India-The Times of India
  12. New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) A parliamentary panel Thursday failed to finalise its recommendations on a bill to set up an institutional mechanism to probe corruption charges against judges of the higher judiciary. It will meet again June 26. After a day-long meeting, E.M.S. Natchiappan, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice ministry, told IANS: 'We were unable to finalise our recommendations today. We will meet again on June 26.' The bill, known as the Judges (Inquiry) Bill, 2006, seeks to establish a National Judicial Council to probe allegations like corruption and inefficiency against judges of the higher judiciary. The bill was referred to the panel after the law ministry introduced it in the Lok Sabha on Dec 19, 2006. 'We are striving for a consensus recommendation to the government on the issue. We are examining the bill very closely as it's a very sensitive issue,' said Natchiappan. He hoped the panel report will be submitted to parliament during its monsoon session. Asked about the reservations among various panel members over provisions of the bill, Natchiappan said: 'It's a very delicate issue. The committee is trying to sort out all differences.' The bill has been facing severe opposition in the panel on several counts, including a provision - Section 30 - which allows an impeached judge of the Supreme Court or a high court to challenge in the apex court the president's order dismissing him. Owing to this provision, the members have termed the bill as 'unconstitutional', saying that it cannot be passed without amending the constitution. Several members, including eminent lawyer and former Law Minister Ram Jethmalani, have repeatedly questioned Section 30. Jethmalani had earlier told IANS, 'Section 30 is the most foolish provision of the bill.' The bill is also facing resistance over a provision - Section 33 - that seeks to make an inquiry against a judge by the National Judicial Council confidential and keep the probe out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI). Panel members questioned the rationale of making the enquiry process against a judge confidential, saying even the process of appointment of judges fell within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Consensus eludes parliamentary panel on judges bill - India
  13. NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission has directed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to disclose by June 5 all information on the "code of conduct for judges for various courts including the higher courts" to a complainant. Non-compliance with the order will be regarded as a mala fide suppression of information and penalty proceedings initiated against the NHRC, Information Commissioner O.P. Kejariwal said. On June 12, 2006, Subhash Chandra Agrawal of Delhi filed an application with the NHRC's public information officer, seeking a copy of the code of conduct and some other information. In his reply, the officer said the NHRC did not have a copy and that it could be obtained from the appropriate authority. In July, Mr. Agrawal approached the Commission seeking a direction to the NHRC to furnish a copy of the recommendations of the `Conference on Corruption' held in May 2006. The NHRC said the recommendations would be printed and a copy sent to him. However, in view of the importance of the issue, the Commission directed the NHRC to show Mr. Agrawal a copy of the recommendations before they were sent for printing. It also asked the NHRC to allow the complainant to inspect the file on his letter written to A.S. Anand, NHRC Chairman, on May 25, 2006. The Hindu : National : Disclose information on code of conduct for judges: CIC
  14. ganpat1956

    Info Act comes to HC judge's rescue

    NEW DELHI: While the Right to Information Act is commonly regarded as a tool to expose corruption, it has been employed in the case of a controversial high court judge to deflect allegations of corruption against him and pave the way for his promotion. The Supreme Court collegium has recommended Justice Jagdish Bhalla of Allahabad High Court to be promoted as chief justice of Kerala High Court despite an official finding against his wife in a Noida land scam. In its meeting on December 14, the collegium headed by the then chief justice, Y K Sabharwal, disregarded this damaging finding on the basis of a clean chit given by the Uttar Pradesh revenue board in response to an RTI application filed by a third party. The Centre is still processing the collegium's proposal to promote Justice Bhalla despite the dissent recorded by Supreme Court judge, B N Agrawal. The controversy began with the finding given by successive reports in 2005 by two revenue officials of Noida (sub divisional magistrate and additional district magistrate) stating that the judge's wife, Renu Bhalla, had bought 7,200 sq metres of prime land on Noida/Greater Noida Expressway from a "land mafia" five years ago for Rs 5 lakhs when its official circle price was Rs 72 lakhs and market price was Rs 7.20 crores. These reports could well have harmed Justice Bhalla's career prospects since he was, by virtue of his seniority, due to be promoted to the rank of chief justice. But what saved him was the RTI application filed in August by one Charan Singh, resident of a village near Noida, asking for information from the state revenue board on the land scam in which Justice Bhalla's wife had figured. TOI has accessed the file notings that have been made on this judicially sensitive RTI application. Rather than sticking by the damaging finding already given against the Bhallas by two of its officials, the revenue board chairperson, Neera Yadav, ordered a fresh probe in the matter on September 15 on the basis of the RTI application. Incidentally, Yadav herself is implicated in another Noida land scam which erupted a decade ago. And only last week, the Supreme Court ordered the state government to resume departmental proceedings against her in that regard. In pursuance of Yadav's order in connection with Justice Bhalla's case, an officer on special duty, Vishal Bharadwaj, gave a report on October 12 contradicting the earlier finding that the Rs 5 lakhs paid by Mrs Bhalla in 2002 for the land was far below the price it commanded then. While admitting that the Noida collector had fixed a higher circle rate in 2002, Bharadwaj questioned the basis on which the earlier reports concluded that the 7,200 sq metre land bought by Mrs Bhalla should have been registered for Rs 72 lakhs instead of Rs 5 lakhs. He said that several other private persons sold their land that year for less than the circle rate of Rs 20 lakhs per hectare. At time of his retirement on January 13, Justice Sabharwal publicly defended the collegium's recommendation to promote Justice Bhalla in the face of corruption allegations. Info Act comes to HC judge's rescue-India-NEWS-The Times of India
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