oppn parties CJI's Office Is Brought Under The RTI Act But Reasons For Most Decisions Might Still Not Be Disclosed

News Snippets

  • Flipkart assures employees that there will be no job or salary cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Although it was obvious, but the government still clarifies that there is no need to switch off appliances and only lights need to be switched off on April 5 at 9pm after confusion in the minds of some people
  • PM Modi and President Trump decide "to deploy full strength of (Indo-US) partnership" to fight against COVID-19
  • 17 states have reported 1023 cases of coronavirus linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, which translates to 30% of all positive cases in India
  • The government says people should not use alcohol-based hand sanitizers before lighting diyas or candles on April 5
  • The railways say there is no certainty yet when services will resume after the lockdown and a final decision will be taken in the next few days
  • As coronavirus cases multiply in Assam, six north-east states seal their borders with the state
  • Power System Operation Corporation Ltd. (POCOSO) putting all systems and protocols in place at war-footing to ensure there is no grid failure due to reduction in demand on April 5 at 9 pm
  • Power ministry scotches rumours that the power grid might fail due to the 9-minute blackout called by PM Modi on Sunday, April 5
  • Centre asks people to wear home-made masks if it is absolutely essential for them to step out of homes
  • Centre asks states to allow licensed street vendors to sell essential items
  • 8000 samples were tested across India on April 2, but the government said that testing will be need-based and will not be used as a confidence-boosting measure
  • Air India operating special flights to fly passengers stuck in India since the lockdown
  • For the first time in history, Darjeeling loses first flush tea due to suspension of garden work for Covid-19 outbreak
  • Supreme Court asks journalists to be responsible and publish only the official version of news after it was brought to its notice that migrant exodus started after the 'fake' news that the lockdown will be extended to three months
Total count stands ar 3082 as India records 16 Covid-19 deaths, the highest in a single day
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CJI's Office Is Brought Under The RTI Act But Reasons For Most Decisions Might Still Not Be Disclosed

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

The Supreme Court has done well to bring the office of the Chief Justice of India under the RTI Act. It was the Delhi High Court which had first ruled that the CJI's office should come under the said act. The five-judge apex court bench has now confirmed the same, but with certain qualifications. It has asked Information Commissioners under the RTI Act to bear in mind that the independence of the judiciary and the right to privacy is not compromised before accepting applications.

The ordinary citizen will be able to seek information on appointments and transfers of judges to high courts and the Supreme Court but he or she will not be allowed to know the reasons behind the decisions. This is mainly because the collegium decisions are based on inputs about the judges from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the IB is not under the RTI Act. Hence, any information a citizen seeks about why the decision to transfer a judge was taken would in all probability be met with the standard reply that it was based on IB inputs and hence cannot be disclosed.

But the very fact that the court has decided to be transparent is a reason to celebrate. For, citing independence of the judiciary, many administrative decisions of the office of the CJI are shrouded in secrecy. In a highly controversial and much-publicized move, five judges of the Supreme Court, including the current CJI, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had gone public with their grouse against the then CJI Justice Dipak Misra, alleging that he was being partial in allotting high profile cases to junior judges. Yet after he became the CJI, Justice Ranjan Gogoi discontinued the practice of publishing the decisions of the collegium, along with the reasons, on the Supreme Court website, something that Justice Misra had started. That was a blow to transparency. The reluctance of the judiciary to disclose its decisions can be seen from this reversal.

Although it will be wrong to expect the moon from the verdict, it is a step in the right direction. There must be more transparency in the administrative decisions of the apex court. The case was remarkable for the fact that the administrative side of the judiciary was a litigant before the judicial side and the latter decided against itself. It is certain that greater judicial accountability will ensue after this verdict as the insulation the apex court had used citing independence of the judiciary will now come to an end, to a large extent.