'RTI affecting the independence of judiciary'

CJI's letter to PM makes his intentions clear

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Danish Raza | April 12, 2010



It is no secret that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) wants his office to be exempted from the Right to Information Act. A letter written by the CJI to the PM, a copy of which is governance now, makes clear the concerns of the CJI.

In the letter dated 19 September, 2009, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan asked the prime minister to amend the Act to the effect that it exempts any information disclosure of which would affect the independence of the judiciary.

“It is observed that while specifying exemptions under section 8 of the Act, highly sensitive nature of the working of the office of the CJI has not been taken note of,” said Balakrishnan in a three page letter, which has been obtained by Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.

Talking about the information, disclosure of which would affect the independence of the judiciary, the CJI has given examples of the appointment of the judges of High courts judges and judgments/ orders prepared and circulated to members of the bench.

“Complaints making serious allegations against sitting judges of higher courts received by the CJI; notings/minutes recorded during the arguments in the courts; privileged documents like correspondence between the chief justice of India and president or the prime minister and other constitutional dignitaries are only a few instances which if allowed to be disclosed, would pose a threat to the independence of the judiciary,” said the CJI.

The CJI believes that the High court order of January bringing his office under the transparency law would have serious ramifications.

“Purusant to the decision of the Delhi High court and in view of the definition of information under section 2 of the RTI Act, several sensible and sensitive matters which are exclusively in the custody of the CJI may have to be disclosed to the applicant exercising their right for such information under the Right to Information Act,” he added.

However, according to the CJI, the judiciary is for transparency and the decision to put the details of the assets of the sitting judges of the supreme court and high court is a step in this direction.

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