Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] Chief Justice of India`s office under Right to Information Act

For past 12 years, the Supreme Court was fighting to keep the office of CJI out of the ambit of RTI Act. But Now, SC upholds 2010 Delhi High Court verdict and holds that office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority and falls within the ambit of RTI.
By IASToppers
November 18, 2019

Content:

  • Context
  • Background
  • Opinion with respect to the judgement
  • What are the issues with respect to implementation of RTI Act?
  • Conclusion

Chief Justice of India`s office under Right to Information Act

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Context:

Recently a five-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court ruled that the office of the Chief Justice of India(CJI) is a “public authority” under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Chief Justice of India(CJI)

Background:

  • The genesis of the RTI case against the Supreme Court lies in a petition filed by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who in 2007, files a plea in the Supreme Court seeking information on judges’ assets.
  • The Supreme Court refused to share the asset declaration resolution. Hence, Agrawal moved the Central Information Commission (CIC), which ruled that the office of the CJI falls under the ambit of the RTI Act.
  • In 2010, the Delhi High Court verdict favoured that the office of CJI comes within the ambit of the RTI Act.
  • Prior to the judgement (November 13, 2019), the Judges of the Supreme Court refused to share information on their personal assets, citing the express lack of public interest.

Opinion with respect to the judgement:

Opinion with respect to the judgement Right to Information Act

What are the issues with respect to implementation of RTI Act?

The implementation of the RTI Act is affected by

  • Central Government’s apathy towards the RTI Act
  • Low public awareness
  • Non-availability of user guides
  • Poor quality or incomplete information provided
  • Inadequate trained public information officers
  • High level of pendency

Conclusion

The judgement could pave the way for greater transparency and disclosure by other public institutions like political parties. The political party financing, even with initiatives like electoral bonds is marked by opacity and the citizen needs to be fully informed about the sources of party incomes.

Additional information

Office of the CJI under the transparency law was initiated by RTI activist S C Agrawal. In this case, the Supreme Court itself was a litigant in a subordinate court (i.e. the Delhi High Court)

 

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