Monday, January 30, 2023

SC to examine RTI’s ambit in judicial appointments

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On August 17, the Supreme Court passed an order referring to a five-judge constitution bench the issues of whether disclosures of information about appointments and transfers of judges can come under the Right to Information Act or whether such disclosures would amount to interference with the independence of the judiciary.

According to The Hindu, RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal had sought the entire correspondence between the Supreme Court and the centre regarding the appointment of certain judges to the apex court, superceding the seniority of the then chief justice of the Delhi High Court, Justice AP Shah. The case was argued by Agarwal’s lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

In 2009, Justice Ravindra Bhat of the Delhi High Court had passed an order that the Central Public Information Officer should release details of the declaration of assets by judges of the Supreme Court as demanded in an RTI action by Agarwal.

In 2010, a three-judge bench of the Delhi High Court consisting of justices AP Shah, Vikramajit Sen and S Muralidhar, upheld this order which had been challenged by the Secretary General of the Supreme Court. These judgments had brought the Supreme Court judges under the purview of RTI.

However, regarding disclosures of all correspondence on judicial appointments, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on August 17 pointed out that there were substantial questions of law which needed to be investigated, hence the requirement that a five-judge bench examine the question.

—India Legal Bureau

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