OFFICE OF CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA NOW COMES UNDER RTI ACT: IS IT JUSTIFIABLE AND HOW?

Updated: Aug 15, 2020

Author: Rajat Mahashwari

New Law College Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune

Co-author: Purvi Mangal

New Law college Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune


“A society without legislature is conceivable, and indeed, legislative organs didn't make their appearance within the state until times , but a civilized state without a judicial organ and machinery is hardly conceivable.” -Garner


INTRODUCTION

The Government of India consists of three organs i.e. Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. the facility in these 3 organs is vested by the constitution of India and it follows the separation of power to possess a system of checks and balances. Where the legislature is responsible of the Government of India consists of three organs i.e. Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. the facility in these 3 organs is vested by the constitution of India and it follows the separation of power to possess a system of checks and balances. Where the legislature is responsible of creating laws, the chief is liable for enforcement of laws, and therefore the judiciary has got to interpret the Constitution and laws also as dispute resolution.


JUDICIARY AND INDEPENDENCE


Judiciary in India consists of the Supreme court, High courts, and District courts. THE supreme court of India is an apex court and last appeals court in India. The article 124(1) of the Indian constitution says that there shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a judge of India and other Judges. judge of India is that the head of the apex court and therefore the judiciary of India. Indian constitution treats every citizen equally and to guard the rights of those citizens, it's given the facility to the judiciary to form decisions supported rule of law and resolute disputes. thanks to such authority judiciary in India is an independent body and it's not controlled by the

govt. and doesn't represent any political authority.The right to information may be a right given to any citizen to request information from a “public authority” (a body of state or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously and within thirty days.


RTI ACT,2005


Right to Information Act, 2005 is an Act which lays down rules and regulations for citizen’s right to information.In a democratic country, transparency is vital because public officials during a democracy are accountable to the general public .The RTI Act enables the general public to urge the specified information from the general public officials and therefore the public can hold the officials accountable.In November 2019 supreme court of India held that the office of the judge of India will come under the ambit of the proper to Information Act, 2005. it's a landmark judgment by the apex court against itself. Now the question arises why it's justifiable to mention that office of CJI should come under the RTI Act. Does it hamper the independence of the judiciary?


IS SUPREME COURT A PUBLIC AUTHORITY.


Section 2(e) of the RTI Act defines ‘competent authority’ and section 2(e)(ii) says competent authority means the judge of India within the case of the Supreme Court. Section 2(h) of the RTI Act defines ‘public authority’ and Term ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act includes any authority or body or an establishment of self-government established by the Constitution or under the Constitution. As per the article 124 of the Indian constitution judge of India (CJI) and judges are a neighborhood of the supreme court and it's undebatable to mention that the supreme court may be a public authority. consistent with as per sub-clause (ii) in clause (e) to Section 2 judge of India may be a competent authority. within the view of the article 124 of the Indian constitution supreme court which may be a public authority necessarily includes CJI and other judges. The office judge or other judges may be a part of the supreme court and judge of India isn't a separate public authority instead it's a head of the institution which may be a public authority.

On examining the definition clause 2(f) of THE RTI Act, the court in Khanapuram Gandaiah v.Administrative Officer held that any information which is accessible and available to a public authority are often provided to an applicant under section 6 of the RTI Act.


RIGHT TO INFORMATION NOT AN ABSOLUTE RIGHTS


According to clause (i) to Section 2 of the RTI Act, information is defined to mean ‘material of any form’ including record, documents, emails, memos, advices, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in electronic form, etc. section 3 of the RTI Act that right to information is subject to conditions and exemptions under the RTI Act. Thus, the proper isn't absolute. This was also interpreted within the case Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Limited (supra) versus state of Kerala where court interpreted that section 8 of the RTI Act begins with a non-obstante clause, which provides that section an overriding effect, just in case of conflict, over the opposite provisions of the Act. Section 8 states that there the general public authority isn't obliged to offer information to any citizen of what has been mentioned in clauses (a) to (j). just in case it's personal, the knowledge are often made available only subject to the restrictions provided in Section 8(j) of the RTI Act.


DEMOCRACY AND TRANSPARENCY


As democracy is understood as people’s govt. it's important to make sure transparency and accountability for the greater interest of the general public in rem. The RTI Act enables citizens with the proper to access information available with public authorities and this helps in balancing diverse interests by providing the general public with the specified information and keeping the confidentiality of sensitive information.


RIGHT TO PRIVACY


Right to privacy which was recognized because the fundamental right in K.S. Puttaswamy and Another v. Union of India and others2. is protected under clause (j) to Section 8(1) and Section11. Clause (j) to Section 8(1) and Section 11 exempts disclosure of data which is considered personal and is distinct from information concerning public Activity and such information would cause unwarranted invasion to privacy if disclosed, unless its disclosure is within the public interest. If an information which is regarded confidential by a 3rd party and it's disclosed by third

party disclosure of such information is exempted under section 11 of the RTI Act, 2005.


CJI UNDER RTI,ACT:A JUSTIFIED JUDGEMENT


constitutional bench in November 2019 is justiciable. this may not only not hamper the

independence of the judiciary but it'll also make the courts more transparent. The judgment

within the case “CENTRAL PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

versus SUBHASH CHANDRA AGARWAL” may be a win for transparency. The judgment

doesn’t hinder the independence of the judiciary. Judges enjoy a constitutional post and

discharge public duty in order that they cannot function in total insulation. albeit judicial

independence is to be maintained but the organ's independence is to be shielded from the

legislature and therefore the executive and judiciary isn't free from public scrutiny. People are

entitled to understand what public authority is doing.

The RTI Act clearly maintains a balance between the public’s right to information and

confidential and personal information thus ensuring accountability and transparency at greater

levels. Supreme court as per the article 124 of the constitution may be a public authority and

therefore the RTI Act provides the general public with the proper to urge information from public

authorities. Judicial independence isn't a private right of the judge but it’s a responsibility given.

During the hearing5, judge Gogoi observed that within the name of transparency, one cannot

destroy the institution. Even right to information isn't an absolute right, there are certain

limitations which need to be followed to make sure the proper to privacy, independence of

judiciary, tip , etc. The bench also held that albeit it's citizen's right to understand it need to be

balanced with judges' individual right to privacy. Justice Ramana6, who concurred with Justice

Khanna, said there should be a balancing formula for the proper to Privacy and therefore the

Right to transparency and independence of the judiciary should be shielded from breach.

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