SC reserves verdict on opening CJI office to RTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a petition seeking clarification whether the office of Chief Justice of India (CJI) is covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

On Wednesday, Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal had submitted that sharing information connected with collegium, which is under the CJI office, would make judges and the government shy and destroy judicial independence.

A constitution bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, was told by the AG that if the RTI is applied to the collegium, it would create a sense of fear in the judiciary and impede a free and frank discussion between judges.

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Venugopal also said that the court should refrain from opening up the highly confidential correspondence of the Supreme Court’s collegium and its workings under the RTI Act.

The AG represented the Supreme Court’s Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), who is the authority tasked to respond to RTI queries related to the court.

Appearing for RTI activist Subhash Chander Aggarwal, advocate Prashant Bhushan on Thursday argued before the bench for the entire day urging the judiciary to put forth the collegium process in public domain.

“If SC doesn’t allow disclosure of information pertaining to judges’ appointment, it would appear that the judiciary is hypocritical — though it asks other authorities to provide this or that info, it doesn’t allow disclosure of information pertaining to its own affairs,” said Bhushan.

Concluding the argument, Venugopal reiterated his stand that the bench should not allow collegium process to fall under the RTI.

The bench asked Bhushan to submit the written arguments on Monday.


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