Delhi HC Rejects SC’s Plea, Rules CJI Office Comes within RTI Act

Giving a landmark ruling, the Delhi High Court has held that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) comes under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) law and that judicial independence is not a judge’s privilege but a responsibility cast upon him, said media reports.

CJI KG Balakrishnan has been opposed to disclosure of information relating judges under the RTI Act and maintained that the office of CJI doesn’t come under RTI law, so the 88-page judgement is being seen a personal jolt to him.

A three-member bench of Delhi High Court comprising Chief Justice AP Shah and Justices Vikramjeet Sen and S Muralidhar rejected a petition of the Supreme Court which argued that if the office of CJI is brought under the ambit of RTI Act, it would ‘hamper’ judicial independence, reported ‘Indian Express’.

“The judicial independence is not a privilege to a judge but a responsibility,” the High Court was quoted as saying, and adding that the CJI cannot be said to have fiduciary relationship (between a trustee and a beneficiary) with other judges.

Furthermore, while delivering the ruling, the bench also went on to announce that the judges of this court will be making their assets public within a week, the report said.

On September 2 last year, the High Court had held that the CJI was a public authority and his office came within the RTI Act.

The Supreme Court challenged the order and the Supreme Court registry contended that the single judge had erred in holding that the CJI’s office comes within the ambit of the transparency law and had interpreted its provisions too broadly which were ‘unnecessary’ and ‘illogical’.

The apex court also contended that judges cannot be put under public scrutiny as it would hamper their functioning and independence.

“We cannot expose our judges to public scrutiny or inquiry because it would hamper their functioning and independence,’ Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, appearing for the apex court registry, had contended.

The AG had argued that other agencies should not be allowed to interfere in the judiciary.

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