Millennium Post

'Public authority': CJI office under RTI ambit

‘Transparency doesn’t undermine judicial independence’

Public authority: CJI office under RTI ambit

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority and falls within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

"Transparency doesn't undermine judicial independence," the Supreme Court said in a unanimous verdict on Wednesday as it upheld the Delhi High Court judgment which ruled that office of the Chief Justice comes under the purview of RTI.

The five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who retires on November 17, also dismissed the three appeals filed by secretary general of the SC and the Central Public Information officer of the Apex Court. Other members of the bench included Justices NV Ramana, DY Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

The Supreme Court, however, said that confidentiality and right to privacy have to be maintained and added that RTI can't be used for as a tool of surveillance. It also said only names of judges recommended by the collegium can be disclosed, not the reasons.

A five-judge constitution bench had on April 4 reserved its verdict on the appeals filed in 2010 by the Supreme Court secretary general and its central public information officer against the high court and the Central Information Commission's (CIC's) orders.

In a landmark verdict on January 10, 2010, the Delhi High Court had held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the ambit of the RTI law, saying judicial independence was not a judge's privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him. The 88-page judgment was then seen as a personal setback to the then CJI, KG Balakrishnan, who has been opposed to disclosure of information relating to judges under the RTI Act. See P6

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