Judiciary: Should be more Transparent

Is Judiciary hard on others but soft on its own personnell?

RTI appeal exposes SC’s resistance to transparency

 

      New Delhi. CJI, Justice K G Balakrishnan was party to the attempt to fob off the RTI application by claiming in effect that the court’s central public informatin officer (CPIO) could not ask for the information that was lying in the CJI’s office on whether the 1997 resolution on periodic declaration by judges of their assets was being implemented.

        In keeping with the CJIapproved note, the CPIO wrote his formal reply under RTI on that very day, November 30, 2007. The documentation behind the CPIO’s reply and the CJI’s approval of the evasion came to light thanks to another RTI application seeking disclosure of the file notings.
   

      It has exposed the apex court’s resistance to transparency: Though the CJI can easily say whether judges have been filing declarations of their assets, the CPIO is made to claim under the RTI Act that the information is not in possession of the registry.

       The matter is now pending before the Central Information Commission, which will have to give a ruling on whether the Supreme Court could be allowed to make a distinction between its registry and the office of the CJI in an obvious bid to confer immunity on the latter from any obligation under the RTI Act.

       If the justification offered for stonewalling the question on assets is taken to its logical conclusion, the CPIO for the Supreme Court cannot answer questions related to the CJI’s office and Justice Balakrishnan will therefore have to appoint a separate CPIO for himself.

        The RTI Act does not exempt the CJI from its purview.
   manoj.mitta@timesgroup.com

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