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

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  • Ban on international flights extended till July 31
  • Reliance launches JioMeet to take on Zoom and other virtual meeting places
  • ICMR says the Covid-19 vaccine made in India, Covaxin, might be launched as early as 15th August
  • The Permanent Court for Arbitration says India is entitled to compensation in the Italian marines' case
  • China says it is "groundless and exaggerated" to claim that it follows expansionist policies
  • In a message to China, PM Modi says the era of "expansionism" is over
  • Prime Minister Modi says India will never bow to any world power
  • Film choreographer Saroj Khan breathes her last
  • China bans access to Indian news websites
  • PM Modi says that as Unlock-02 kicks in and more people resume working, people have to follow the rules even more religiously
  • PM Modi says that all citizens need to be vigilant against people who do not follow the rules in force, like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing
  • PM Modi warns the country that with the onset of the monsoon, more seasonal diseases will strike and citizens have to be more disciplined
  • Hero Cycles to buy the struggling Atlas Cycle group
  • RIL to buy the retail businesses of Future Group
  • Import licensing to be put in place for AC's TV's and other non-essential items
Prime Minister Modi visits Leh and Nimu in Ladakh to take stock of the situation arising out of the LAC stand-off with China and praises the soldiers injured in the Galwan clash
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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.