The Supreme Court on Thursday (April 4) observed that full disclosure of the process of appointment of judges through the Collegium system is unwarranted.
A bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi said: “Too much of transparency will be counterproductive. A line has to be drawn somewhere. Of late many good people are withdrawing their consent to become a judge and… it is their view that they are reluctant because their reputation may be at stake. Therefore full disclosure is not warranted… Nobody wants opaqueness we all want transparency. “
The counsel appearing for respondent Subhash Chandra Aggarwal contested the contentions and said: “The argument that disclosure would impede the independence of judiciary has been dealt with in SP Gupta case and the argument has been rejected by the court. In SP Gupta the court articulated that non disclosure would harm public interest and disclosure would be in public interest. This disclosure must be in public domain.”
He further added: “There can be cases where some part of information with the correspondence may be personal information and I accept it to be private information and that information may not have any relation with public activity. However information which makes a judge unfit for appointment must be disclosed and it has relation with public activity. The entire correspondence cannot be exempted just because a part of it is personal information. One cannot ask for a class exemption. We live in a democracy and people have the right to know what the public authorities are doing. In SP Gupta Case this Court said that if the process of appointment leads to nepotism then it has to be corrected and it can be done only when people know about it. Independence of judiciary means that the government must not be involved in the appointment of judges and it should be separated from the executive and legislature.”
The five judges bench headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices NV Ramana, DY Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta, Sanjiv Khanna was hearing various appeals filed by Secretary General and its Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) against the Delhi HC order maintaining that the CJI’s office comes under the purview of the Right to Information Act.
The matter was reserved for judgment.
—India Legal Bureau