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  1. As reported at dnaindia.com on November 20, 2009 The suprme court today argued before the Central Information Commission (CIC) that Right to Information (RTI) cannot apply unless the sought information is "lawfully" held by an authority in a manner a title of property is held, which was rejected by CIC. Presenting the apex court's arguments before the Commission, advocate Devadatt Kamat said the word "held" as mentioned section 2 (j) of the RTI Act does not does not mean possession of it unless there is a sanction of law behind holding of information. Hence, there cannot be any Right to Information, he maintained. Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said the argument was not correct and would "strike out the root of the RTI Act" as in that case no information could be asked under the transparency law. Habibullah said the word "held" mentioned in the section means ordinarily held adding it does not say lawfully held or held like property title as mentioned by apex court. The CIC was hearing the plea of information rights activist SC Agrawal whose application seeking complete correspondence with the CJI in the case of justice R Reghupati of Madras high court being allegedly approached by a Union minister to influence his decisions was rejected by the supreme court registry. Section 2 (j) says "right to information" means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority. Source: RTI can't apply unless info is lawfully held: SC to CIC - dnaindia.com
  2. As reported by Subhash Chnadra at merinews.com on Oct 24, 2009 A VISION document would be presented by the Union Law Minister at the New Delhi conference on Saturday, October 24, will hold solutions to check the adjournment-culture in courts. However, this step would not be enough to do so. The government should first begin with eradicating this culture from its own departments and ministries, which also seek this adjournments. The department of justice, in one instance, sought such an ex-party stay order against the verdict from the Central Information Commission (CIC), more than two and a half years ago, that the case has not moved even an inch since then. The counsels for the public-authority are currently seeking about a dozen such adjournments. In another case, a meeting of all the Information Commissioners at CIC decided that the Chief Information Commissioner would meet the Chief Justice of Delhi, so that cases against CIC verdicts could be decided fast and the spirit of the RTI Act would be maintained. Similarly, a division bench of the Supreme Court opined against frequent stay orders granted by courts, that too at a time when parties obtaining stay orders, lose the cases under stay! Parties seeking adjournments should be made to pay some reasonable but fixed cost which should go to the exchequer, rather than opposite side or its counsel. Even judges should normally not have discretionary power to deviate from this fixed cost. Since a large number of cases involve government functionaries, the court handling such cases should devise a mechanism whereby, fixed days are devoted for such particular government functionaries which are most involved in court-cases. For example, all cases involving Central Information Commission may be taken on a particular day of the month and likewise. It should be ensured that counsels of government functionaries may be present on priority on such suggested fixed days. Source: Fix costs on adjournments in courts
  3. Dated: 20th Jan, 2009 Friends, Thanks for your overwhelming response to my earlier post. Hope you all know the following incident:- One Mr. S C Agrawal had sought from the Supreme Court (SC) registry information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act regarding: 1. The assets of the Chief justice of India (CJI) and other Supreme Court judges, and 2. 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. Mr. Agrawal moved the appellate authority, (as per recommendation of the RTI Act), which held that such information could not be provided!! (Just think!!) He then filed a revision appeal before the Chief Information Commissioner of India (CIC). The CIC rejected the Registry\u0026#39;s contention that the Supreme Court and the CJI were not bound to share such information. 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, (as per recommendation of the RTI Act), which held that such information could not be provided!! (Just think!!) He then filed a revision appeal before the Chief Information Commissioner of India (CIC). The CIC rejected the Registry's contention that the Supreme Court and the CJI were not bound to share such information. ,"Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Mr. Wajahat Habibullah and Commissioners A.N. Tiwari and M.M. Ansari, directed the Supreme Court Registry to furnish to Mr S C Agrawal, the above applicant, information on declaration of assets as per a May 7, 1997 resolution adopted at an all-India judges conference.
  4. As reported at ddinews.gov.in on 09 September, 2009 The Supreme Court has said it has no information about the Union minister, who allegedly approached a Madras High Court Judge to influence his decision in an anticipatory bail case. The Supreme Court registry also did not exercise section 6 (3) of the RTI Act wherein a public authority needs to transfer the application to the appropriate office, if the asked information was not in its possession. "Information sought by you is not handled and dealt with by the Registry of the Supreme Court of India," the reply of the Central Public Information Officer Raj Pal Arora said. RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal had sought the details from the apex court about the Union minister who allegedly approached Justice R Raghupathy of Madras High Court to influence his judicial decisions. Agrawal quoted media reports claiming that Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had said that Justice Raghupathy had written to Chief Justice of the Madras High Court that the Minister had not spoken to him directly. Agrawal then filed the first appeal in the apex court and said that in a recent decision, Delhi High Court had clarified that office of Chief Justice of India comes under the RTI Act and if any details are held by it, his application should be transfered to it as per section 6 (3) the Act Source: No info about Min who tried to influenced Madras HC Judge: SC - www.ddinews.com
  5. As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 4 September 2009 NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the country's top auditor Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and others on a petition accusing it of failure to recover "around Rs 10,000 crore" from banks and deploy it for welfare of the disabled. The petition filed by one Ravi Shankar Bhushan, a disabled person working in an NGO, said that CAG had not complied with the apex court's directions given in April 2004. CAG was to recover the money illegally collected by banks from individual borrowers by rounding-off interest rate and ensure that the money was used for welfare of disabled. A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan sought replies from the Ministries of Finance and Social Justice and Empowerment, CAG, RBI, the Indian Banks' Association and 26 public sector banks, including State Bank of India. The petition has sought a direction to the ministries to disclose details of disbursements made to disabled in accordance with the apex court decision's and also frame appropriate schemes for disabled like their rehabilitation, entrepreneurial activity, prevention and early detection. Bhushan claimed that only Rs 150 crore had been recovered so far against Rs 10,000 crore collected by banks by rounding-off interest rates. The petition noted that RBI had given approval to the system of rounding-off of the rate of interest to be levied by the banks by up to 0.25% and shift the burden of the same on to the borrowers. Bhushan alleged that CAG was not collecting the money expeditiously and the banks were also not giving full details about the dues in a time-bound manner. Though a Trust headed by CAG was set up, it appeared that apart from starting a scholarship scheme for disabled students envisaging a maximum expenditure of Rs one crore per year as late as August 2008, nothing further seems to have been done in the matter, the petition said. Further, the amount recovered was to be used for separate schemes and not for funding existing government programmes for disabled persons, it said, adding that the amount was to go into a fund which was over and above the sum spent by the Government of India for disabled persons. It is in the interest of justice and transparency that prominent NGOs working in this area and disabled persons should be involved in framing of schemes, the petition said. The apex court had in 2004 barred banks and the Centre from keeping the money, which was collected illegally by rounding-off interest rate, and had directed CAG to recover the excess amount from them and deposit the same in a corpus fund for the benefit of the disadvantaged. Bhushan, who had collected the information under the Right to Information Act, said that the apex court's decision in 2004 had not been implemented. The apex court, while deciding the PIL in 2004, had held that the fund managed by CAG should be collected for the benefit of disabled persons and the excess collection of Rs 723.79 crore collected annually since 1993 by the banks all over the country should be deposited in the fund. Source: SC notice to CAG on disabled person's plea - India - NEWS - The Times of India
  6. As reported at ptinews.com on 17 July, 2009 New Delhi, Jul 17 (PTI) The Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court cannot be two distinct entities, the Central Information Commission has held directing the registry of the apex court to provide information to an RTI applicant even if it is held by the office of the Chief Justice. "The Institution and its head cannot be two distinct Public Authorities. They are one and the same. Information therefore available with Chief Justice of India must be deemed to be available with the Supreme Court of India," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibuallah said. The Commission was hearing the plea of RTI applicant 77-year-old P K Dalmia who sought to know the fate of his complaint, filed with the Chief Justice of India, of alleged malpractices by a designated company judge Sunil Ambwani in the liquidation of UP State Cement Corporation Limited. Source: fullstory
  7. 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?
  8. As reported at www.indopia.in on 27 April 2009 The CIC has issued a show cause notice to Supreme Court officials for not providing information to an RTI applicant in a timely manner. "Central Public Information Officer Supreme Court of India is further directed to show cause as to why a penalty of Rs 250 per day from the date when the information fell due - 20-05-2007 - to the date when the information is actually supplied . Should not be imposed on him," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said. The case relates to the RTI application filed by one Trilokchand Gajanan Verma of Aurangabad who wanted to know the status of the"special leave petition"filed by him in the apex court. His application, which was filed on February 20, 2007, was not responded to by Supreme Court officials. His first appeal filed on October 22, 2007 against the non-supply of the information was also not decided within the time frame prescribed under the RTI Act. The officials did not respond to the complaint notice sent by the CIC on March 31 this year, Habibullah said. Source: National : CIC issues show cause notice to Supreme Court officials : 559456
  9. Friends, I desperately want the copy of the petition filed by the CJI at the delhi HC against the CIC's order binding the SC registry to provide the declaration of assets of the SC judges and CJI as claimed by the one MR SC Agarwal. If the copy of the said petition is with anybody, please post it on the website or kindly mail it to me at xxx@yyy.zzz or send the web address from where it can be available. Regards, Sayantan Banerjee.
  10. New Delhi, Sep 25 (PTI) The Central Information Commission has acknowledged differences between RTI Act and the Supreme Court in practices and procedures when it comes to accessing judicial files but said there is no "inherent inconsistency" between the two regarding disclosure of information in the files. "...Neither provision (Supreme Court rules and Right to Information Act) prohibits or forbids dissemination of infomation or grant of copies of records," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while hearing an RTI plea of Delhi-based advocate Manish Kumar Khanna who sought access to court files relating to death sentences passed or upheld by the apex court. Khanna, moved his application before the Commission after the apex court, though allowing him access to the records, said the judicial files were voluminous and hence could not be provided in a set of documents arranged case-wise, alongwith the list of counsels and other relevant details. He also questioned the Supreme Court's decision to charge him the cost for supplying the documents although the RTI Act is clear that the information was to be provided free in case it was not given within the stipulated time limit. The apex court, on the other hand, contended that an applicant was supposed to pay for inspection or issuance of judicial files as per the Supreme Court Rules, 1966. (MORE) The Commission, which has asked the apex court to arrange for the inspection within 15 days, said there was no "inherent inconsistency" between the SC Rules and the RTI Act and the difference was only with respect to certain practices and procedures. PTI SC Rules not inconsistent with RTI Act: CIC
  11. In a revealing disclosure the newly appointed information commissioner at the CIC informed that he was not bound to go by the decisions of the Supreme Court and that CIC will take its own decision in the matter of allowing information on ACR grades by the Govt. departments to its employees. He said he was proposing a full bench meeting of the Central Information Commission to consider this matter, which is likely to come up soon.
  12. Uttar Pradesh’s stand on CBI probe into judiciary-graft sought as reported By Sindh Today|Sep 9th, 2008 New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday rebuked the Uttar Pradesh government for hiding from it the Ghaziabad police’s suggestion to transfer a corruption case against judges, including those of higher judiciary, to the Central Bureau of Investigation for further probe. A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat also sought the state government’s stand on the suggestion by the district police, which is presently probing the fraudulent withdrawal of over Rs.70 million from Ghaziabad district court’s treasury between 2001 and 2007 with many sitting and retired judges being beneficiaries of the fund. The bench, which also included Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice G.S. Singhvi, was hearing a lawsuit by the Ghaziabad Bar Association (GBA) seeking a high-level probe into the allegations of judges being the beneficiaries of the fraudulent withdrawal. The bench grew furious after senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for GBA, disclosed to the court that Ghaziabad senior superintendent of police (SSP) has repeatedly written to the state’s director general of police (DGP) about the difficulties being faced by it in probing the matter further apparently owing to involvement of the members of judiciary. Revealing the information, acquired by the GBA from the district police under the Right to Information Act, Divan said the Ghaziabad SSP has suggested to the state’s DGP to transfer investigations to the CBI as the probe by it has reached a dead end ‘in some aspects.’ At this the bench got furious as the whole purpose of the lawsuit is to seek a CBI probe into the matter, while the state government concealed from the court the Ghaziabad police’s suggestion. The state government hid the information at least on three occasions, when the matter was heard by two other benches, including those of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and the second senior most judge, Justice B.N. Agrawal. Lamenting that hiding of the information has resulted in ‘wastage of precious judicial time’, the bench said: ‘You have made a mockery of the entire judicial system. It’s unfortunate.’ Asked specifically about the state government’s stand on transferring the probe to the CBI, Uttar Pradesh Advocate General Jitendra Mishra meekly said: ‘We need some more time to take a decision.’ At this, the bench asked him to apprise the court of the government’s stand and adjourned the matter for further hearing in the third week of October. The hearing on the sensitive issue, involving corruption in higher judiciary, has repeatedly led to fiery arguments in the court room, resulting in the chief justice and later Justice Agrawal abandoning the hearing mid-way. Chief Justice Balakrishnan abandoned the hearing as senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, appearing for a non-governmental organisation Transparency International, had sought direct interrogation of judges, allegedly involved in the scam, by the police. He had made the demand challenging Chief Justice Balakrishnan’s administrative order to the police to submit its written questionnaire to his office for vetting before being posed to the judges. As Shanti Bhushan challenged the administrative order of the chief justice and no judge can sit in judgement over an issue involving himself, the chief justice abandoned the hearing. The matter was later transferred to the bench of second senior most judge, Justice Agrawal, who too abandoned the hearing following repeated allegations by Shanti Bhushan that the Supreme court was protecting the corrupt judges. Uttar Pradesh’s stand on CBI probe into judiciary-graft sought | Sindh Today
  13. Justice delayed: 222 cases await Supreme Court verdict As Reported By Rana Ajit, New Delhi, Jan 25 in New Kerala It looks like the Supreme Court does not practise what it preaches. While it has many times disapproved of delays in judgements by high courts, the apex court itself has 222 cases waiting for the verdict six months or more after the final hearing. The apex court revealed this fact in response to an application by a lawyer seeking the total number of cases awaiting verdict for six months or more after the case's final hearing. The plea had been made under the new transparency law, the Right to Information Act, 2005. "With reference to your application dated Dec 14, 2007, (the apex court's last working day last year), this is to inform you that as on Dec 14, 2007, 222 cases are pending for judgement for six months or more after their hearing is over," the court's Additional Registrar and Central Public Information Officer told lawyer Manzoor Ali Khan. The apex court in its various rulings, including a landmark one in 1976, had disapproved of the practice of delay in judgement saying this tends to erode the people's confidence in the judiciary. In the 1976 ruling, a three-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice A.N. Ray ticked off the Allahabad High Court for an eight-month delay in delivering the verdict and said: "An unreasonable delay between hearing of the arguments and the delivery of judgement, unless explained by exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, is highly undesirable. "A litigant must have complete confidence in the result of the litigation. This confidence tends to be shaken if there is excessive delay between hearing of arguments and the delivery of judgement. Justice, as we have often observed, must not only be done but must manifestly appear to be done," the bench, which also included Justice M.H. Beg and Justice Jaswant Singh, had said. Cautioning the high courts against the perils of abnormal delay in the delivery of verdicts, the bench added, "It is not unlikely that some points which the litigant considers important may have escaped notice due to delay in delivery of justice." The bench had termed the delay in the delivery of judgements "undesirable" despite the fact that the Civil Procedure Code does not provide any time limit for the period between the hearing of arguments and the delivery of a judgement. "But with 222 cases awaiting their verdicts in the apex court itself, it may well be a case of darkness beneath the lamp," said advocate Manzoor Khan, who forced the apex court to make the embarrassing revelation. Even the government is concerned with the courts' practice of keeping verdicts reserved for unnecessarily long periods after the conclusion of hearings in various cases. Senior law ministry officials often emphasise the need for the Supreme Court and various high courts to divulge details like how much time they take to dispose of a case, including the time taken in writing the judgements. They want courts to record in each individual judgement details like total number of days when the case was effectively heard, the number of days when it was adjourned and the reason for adjournments. But they lament that the courts have been resisting such a move on the pretext that it would impinge on judicial independence. A parliamentary panel headed by E.M.S. Natchiappan, a Rajya Sabha member, is currently examining whether a timeframe could be fixed for the disposal of cases akin to the practice in the West where the day a case is filed, the litigants are also given a list of dates in advance to indicate by what period the hearing would be over and the judgement delivered. --- IANS
  14. The Commission's recommendation came in light of an RTI applicant's plea wherein suggestions were made for the apex judiciary to frame rules under the transparency law, enabling access to court records in an electronic format. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Supreme Court to consider computerising all its records as mandated under the two-year-old Right to Information law. The Commission's recommendation came in light of an RTI applicant's plea wherein suggestions were made for the apex judiciary to frame rules under the transparency law, enabling access to court records in an electronic format. "The Right to Information Act mandates computerisation of all records. This will also 'mutatis mutandis' apply to all court records. In this context, the suggestion of appellant R Ramachandran is salutary and is recommended for consideration of the Supreme Court," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has said. Ramachandran, a resident of Cheyyar in Tamil Nadu, in his information plea had sought from the Supreme Court details about a writ petition filed with it. He further suggested the apex court to make rules that would enable furnishing of records available with it in an electronic form. Finding relevance in the suggestion of the applicant, Habibullah in his order quoted provisions of the RTI Act which calls upon every public authority to maintain their records in a computerised format and connected through a network all across the country. The RTI Act, which ensures citizens of access to information held by public offices falling under its ambit, has laid considerable importance on computerisation of all government records. The apex information body has also approached the government to integrate the Centre's ambitious National E-Governance Programme (NeGP) with the RTI network, an attempt that would ensure online access of information held by public offices. Ramachandran's application of August 11 last year had sought from the Supreme Court address of parties to a writ petition, while also seeking a copy of the petition filed before the court. The Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court in its reply asked the applicant to apply for a copy of the petition as per the provisions of the Supreme Court Rules. The reply stated that as the matter was sub-judice, any attempt to seek relevant records could be effected only through an application seeking certified copies of the same. Not satisfied with the response given, Ramachandran moved an appeal before the Commission seeking appropriate orders. He also suggested the apex judiciary to frame rules under the RTI Act in ensuring computerisation of all its records. The Commission in its decision concurred with the opinion of the Supreme Court in calling for an application from Ramachandran seeking certified copies of the documents sought by him. Referring to an earlier decision, the Commission said that despite differences between RTI Act and the Supreme Court in practices and procedures in respect to accessing judicial files, there was no "inherent inconsistency" between the two. "...Neither provision (Supreme Court rules and RTI Act) prohibits or forbids dissemination of information or grant of copies of records," Habibullah said in his order. Deccan Herald - Computerise all court records, CIC to Supreme Court
  15. In the first summons ever to a Supreme Court official, the Central Information Commission has asked the senior functionary to explain his failure to respond to a Delhi resident's plea for information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah issued directions April 2 to the apex court's administrative registrar for a personal appearance at the commission at 12 noon on May 25. Habibullah asked the official to explain why he should not pay a penalty of Rs.250 for each day of denying the requisite information to Zilley Singh. According to the RTI, a maximum penalty of Rs.25,000 can be imposed. The official was asked to provide the requisite information to Zilley Singh within 10 days of the order. Zilley Singh had filed an application before the apex court in a case related to perjury and wanted to know its status. He complained to the commission Sep 22 last year that his request submitted to the administrative registrar, also functioning as chief public information officer under the RTI Act, had not been responded to. He had applied for the information May 10, 2006. An administrative registrar's post is equivalent to that of a district court judge. After promotion as registrar general of the apex court, the official could be elevated to high court judge. This is the second time the CIC has come out with a ruling against the Supreme Court in its bid to infuse more transparency in the administrative functioning of the court. In a path-breaking order March 23, the commission had directed the department of justice under the law ministry to make public a file on the appointment of Justice Vijender Jain as chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The order has given the department of justice a month's time till April 22 to disclose to Aggarwal 'all file notings and opinion of the Supreme Court Collegium's member judges on the appointment file'. President A.P.J Abdul Kalam had in October last year returned the file for Jain's appointment to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raising some queries. Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, at a press meet Sunday, refused to answer IANS' queries on the CIC orders, saying that they were not on the agenda of the conference. Information commissioner summons apex court official
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