CIC to SC: Disclose details when you reserve orders

Gives 15 days deadline to SC to make public the list of cases in which arguments were over but judgments reserved


Danish Raza | August 5, 2011

Supreme court
Supreme court

The central information commission (CIC) has directed the Supreme Court (SC) to make public the list of all such cases where the arguments were over, but judgments were reserved. Currently, the apex court does not maintain case details in this form either on its website or on any other platform where public can access it.

During the hearing on Wednesday, the Supreme Court’s public information officer argued that the court ordinarily passed orders within 2 - 4 weeks of reserving the orders. “About those few rare cases in which orders were not passed for a longer period, no specific data was being maintained,” said Smita Vats Sharma, CPIO. 

The CIC ruled that the total number of such cases in which orders were reserved should be duly intimated to the general public. “Now that the benefit of computerization is available, placing such data in the public domain should not be particularly difficult. Therefore, if the Supreme Court is not maintaining such data, it should do so now in order to facilitate the citizens to learn about the status of pendency before the Supreme Court,” said the order.

The CIC was hearing the case of commodore Lokesh K Batra. In December 2009, the applicant filed RTI application with the high court and Supreme Court asking the total number of cases pending for judgements where arguments had been heard and Judgements are reserved in the year 2007, 2008 and 2009.

While the high court provided him with the data, the apex court told him that it did not maintain data in that manner making the applicant move the CIC.

"If no data is maintained of those cases where orders have been reserved for longer period than how such cases are brought in front of concerned benches of Hon'ble Supreme Court ?" said the applicant.

Related story

SC: We keep no record of pending judgments
Danish Raza | New Delhi | February 01 2010

Believe it or not, the apex court doesn't keep record of things that the high courts do as a matter of routine.

This came to light after an RTI applicant wanted to know the number of cases for which hearings have been completed but the judgments are pending. The Supreme Court said it did not keep such records.

L.K. Batra, a Noida resident, had sought to know in December 2009 the number of cases pending for judgments where arguments have been heard from December 2007. He was told that "the Supreme Court does not hold a record of the number cases where judgments are reserved. To obtain any information on sub judice matters, one should refer to Supreme Court Rules, 1966. Judgments are also available on the Court’s website."

When Governance Now decided to cross-check with additional registrar Raj Pal Arora, who had replied to Batra, he repeated himself: “We don’t have any such data with us. If someone wants to know the status of a particular case, he can see it on the website."

Reacting to the apex court's reply, senior lawyer K.T.S. Tulsi said: “This is absurd. They have all the details of every case with them. They are trying to withhold it."

Interestingly, Batra had sought answer for the same set of questions to the Delhi High Court which promptly delivered the relevant information. The high court wrote back saying there were 6, 4 and 367 such cases for 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively.

On December 11, 2009, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan had said that pendency of cases would lead people to revolt and the legal system to crumble. "We cannot have this much of delay at any cost. It should be reduced," he had said while attending a conference in Bangalore.

But it seems his observations have been completely ignored by the apex court officials.





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