The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court to furnish details of the medical expenses of judges reimbursed in the last three years, both in India and abroad, wherever applicable.

The CIC, acting on an appeal from RTI activist Subash Chandra Agarwal, also directed the CPIO to give him within 15 days a list of all resolutions passed at the meetings of judges of the Supreme Court since March 25, 1997; and a copy of the rules/guidelines, if any, about the appointment of retired judges of the apex court as arbitrators.

Mr. Agarwal filed the appeal after he was refused such information.

During a hearing before the CIC, both parties reiterated their position: the appellant claimed that the information should be provided and the respondents said the information was not available in the form in which it was sought.

Simple information

Rejecting the CPIO stand, the CIC said: “We find it very difficult to accept the contention of the respondents that such simple statistical information as the total expenses incurred on medical reimbursement for individual judges or the list of resolutions passed in the meetings of all the judges of the Supreme Court should not be available in the Supreme Court. All offices funded by the state have to maintain accounts of all expenses made on such heads as medical reimbursement against individual claims based on approved entitlements. Similarly, it is most unlikely that there is no data in the Supreme Court about the number of resolutions passed in the meetings of all the judges.”

The CIC said: “If all or some of these information are not available for any reason, the CPIO shall clearly and in a speaking manner state so in his communication to the appellant. Besides, he is also directed to bring this fact to the notice of the competent authority in the Supreme Court for ensuring that arrangements are made in future for maintaining such information, preferably digitally, as expected in Section 4(1) (a) of the Right to Information Act, so that retrieval and disclosure of such information would become easier and citizens can access such information easily.”

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