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Keep selection process of judges out of RTI purview: ex-CJI

Nagesh Prabhu

‘Certain areas of judiciary cannot be made public and it is not necessary’

Institutional decisions by CJI should be kept out

Bangalore: Certain areas of the functioning of the judiciary, including the process of selection of judges, should be kept out of the purview of Right to Information (RTI) Act in the interest of the independence of the judiciary, said Justice Rajendra Babu, the former Chief Justice of India and the former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a conference on “Protection of Traditional Knowledge/Traditional Cultural Expression – Evolving a Sui-Generis Model for India’ at the National Law School of India University (NLSIU) here on Monday, he said “certain areas of the judiciary cannot be thrown open to public scrutiny and it is not necessary.”

Asked about the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a “public authority” that comes within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, he said certain areas such as confidential and sensitive information gathered by the CJI on the appointment of judges, should be kept outside the ambit of the RTI Act.

“Information on areas such as decision-making, the process of selection of judges and the movement of files cannot be made available under the RTI. The ultimate decision can be known to the public,” he said.

The CJI discharges various functions and “when you make selection of a judge, you have to get information from various sources, not from one source. Some people give confidential information. Can he disclose it?” Justice Rajendra Babu recalled an incident during his tenure when he asked a Supreme Court judge whether to appoint a particular person as a judge. “You know what he told me? If you ask me in writing, I will say ‘yes’ and if you ask me orally, I will say ‘no.’ How do you deal with it?”

Justice Babu, who is holding a Chair on Human Rights at NLSIU, said information such as institutional decisions by the CJI, taken after gathering inputs at different levels, should be kept out of the RTI purview and such revelation amounts to “throwing them to the wolves.”

On Supreme Court judge V.S. Sirpurkar heading a three-member committee to investigate the grounds for impeachment of Karnataka Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran on corruption and land-grabbing charges, the former CJI said “the legal process should take its own course.”

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