Ruling on RTI activist's plea

The Central Information Commission has directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Supreme Court, to furnish information on the action taken by the court Registry pursuant to the November 26, 2010 orders for constitution of a larger Bench to hear cases on declaration of assets by judges.

The CIC, in its order passed on an appeal by RTI activist Subash Chandra Agrawal, rejected the submission made on behalf of the CPIO that information on constitution of Benches related to an in-house procedure and could not be furnished.

The CIC said: “The request for information on whether the Registry has placed certain papers before the Chief Justice of India [S.H. Kapadia] for constitution of a Bench as directed in the November 26, 2010 order cannot be deemed information relating to either an in-house procedure of the Supreme Court or judicial proceedings. This information is plainly administrative in nature.”

Moreover, this kind of information was not covered under the Supreme Court Rules so that the citizen could approach the appropriate authorities to secure it.

“Thus, there is no option for a citizen other than the RTI Act for seeking such information. Besides, it is difficult to imagine how the disclosure of such information as to whether the Registrar has placed certain papers before the CJI in compliance with the orders of the court itself could cause any abrogation of the independence of the judiciary or cause interference in the judicial proceedings of the court.”

The CPIO should provide the information sought by the appellant within 15 days.

The CIC also directed him to give Mr. Agrawal details of the correspondence between the former CJI, K.G. Balakrishnan, and the Union Law Ministry, confirming the news of the CJI advising Justice P.D. Dinakaran, to go on leave.

(Justice Dinakaran, who at that time was Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, is facing charges of land-grab, corruption and abuse of judicial office. He is now Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court.)

By another order, the CIC directed the CPIO to give speaking orders on the information sought by the appellant on appointment of judges, disposal of complaints against some judges and correspondence between the CJI and the Chief justices of High Courts concerned since he had claimed that disclosure of such information was prohibited under the RTI Act.