This incident has opened a serious issue. Was Shruthi Singh Chouhan aware that the fight is against the opinion of CJI ? Is she competent to deal with this case ? If cityzens who are not well equipped to fight the case get into such issues the judiciary or public authorities or government will make use of this opportunity to thjeir advantage. I do not know whether she is capable of employing a suitable Advocate or the issue will be taken over by competent RTI Activists. I think it is our duty to tell such RTI enthusiast to refrain from bitting more than what they can swallow.
I am sure that Ms Shruti Singh Chauhan knows what she is doing. Besides the CIC, her name also comes up frequently in various orders of SIC's. Just search for her name on the CIC website and you will get many orders/decisions with her name as appellant. Here are just two examples:
From the newspaper report, it does not appear that she has gone to Court. It is the Central Government which has gone to Court against the order of CIC to place the file relating to transfer of High Court Judges, before it.
But the stand taken by the Government is surprising because earlier on 23 March 2007, the CIC had allowed disclosure (subject to severability under Sec 10) regarding the appointment of Justice Virender Jain as CJ of Punjab & Haryana High Court. Since the appellant has not come back to the CIC till now (no further reference available on CIC website), I presume that the information was disclosed. Please see:
This is a very ticklish issue. In a democracy like ours all the three 'arms' namely the executive, the judiciary and the legislature have their own defined functions. Their functions should be exercised in a harmonious was as to ensure that there is no clash of interest over supremacy of authority. It is better to resolve such issues without compromising the authority of any one of this.
You are very correct. It is time for our Hon'ble Speaker of the Lok Sabha to open his mind again. How can the so called Constitutional Offices assume that they are above the Constitution ? THE CONSTITUTION IS SUPREME. No one has any authority to absolve themselves from the enactment made under the Constitution.
Comments from Sailesh Gandhi on Add. Solicitor General's Submission
I feel the apparently frivolous contention of the Add.Solicitor General in
the Delhi High Court and the stay obtained
may have serious implications on the Right to Information movement. To my knowledge there is no definition of "Constitutional functionaries"
and therefore could be taken to mean,- all autorities mentioned in the
Constitution. MPs, ministers and a host of others have been mentioned
in the Constitution and the claim for an untenable immunity from RTI appears to be without any basis in law. However, given the fact that in that case the judiciary will be acting as a judge in its own cause, the final
outcome seems preordained. It will be worthwhile for activists to voice
their strong disagreement on this condemnable attempt to subvert the RTI act.
I am giving below the NCPRI statement, and request all activists to spread
this widely and also voice their own disagreements strongly:
NCPRI Statement on the Central Government's attempt to reduce the
scope and coverage of the Right to Information Act.
An unnecessary controversy has been created by the contention of the
Additional Solicitor General claiming in the Delhi High court that the
Right to Information does not apply to what he calls "Constitutional
functionaries" . A non-existent legal immunity is being claimed for a
section of Public servants, and the applicability of the Right to
Information with regard to information regarding them or their
actions. It will be worthwhile to recall that Justice Mathew ruled-"In
a government of responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the
public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but few
secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public
act, everything that is done in a public way by their public
functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every
public transaction in all its bearing. Their right to know, which is
derived from the concept of freedom of speech, though not absolute, is
a factor which should make one wary when secrecy is claimed for
transactions which can at any rate have no repercussion on public
Thus claiming secrecy for the transactions of a few arbitrarily
chosen few Public servants would be feudal and not in consonance with
the preamble of the Right to Information Act. No information can be
kept secret from the sovereign Citizens of India, based on the
imagined superiority of some so called constitutional functionaries.
Since there is no definition or mention of the term 'Constitutional
funcionaries' as being exempt under the RTI act, he perhaps means all
those mentioned in the Constitution. It would then cover all
Ministers, Members of Parliament and many other functionaries
mentioned in the Constitution. This is completely erroneous and would
render the RTI act and all laws meaningless. Further we might point
out that all the authorities covered by the RTI act have been defined
as 'Public Authorities' under Section 2 (h) of the Act, which states,"
"(h) "public authority" means any authority or body or institution of
self- government established or constituted—
(a) by or under the Constitution;
(b) by any other law made by Parliament;
The so-called "constitutional functionaries" have been established or
constituted by or under the Constitution. And if they have not been
established or constituted by or under the Constitution, how do they
come to acquire their positions.
Some arguments have been raised about the whether a judge's
transfer can be challenged. This is not the same as seeking of
information about their transfers. Whether an action is illegal or not
is an independent matter, and must not be confused with providing
information about it. The National Campaign for People's Right to
Information, urges the Government to correct the erroneous contention
which it has filed in Court.
Shailesh Gandhi (Convenor), Aruna Roy, Jagdeep Chhokkar, Trilochan
Sastry, Maja Daruwala, Venkatesh Nayak, Nikhil Delhi on behalf of
NCPRI Working Committee.
All my emails are in Public domain. Satyamevajayate
As reported by Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times, New Delhi, August 22, 2008
The Government does not want people to know their judges. The Ministry
of Law and Justice has said the Right To Information Act does not
cover Supreme Court and High Court judges.
"Constitutional authorities like the President, Chief Justice of
India, Supreme Court judges, Chief Justices of High Courts and other
judges of the High Courts are outside the purview of the Right to
Information Act," the ministry has told Delhi High Court."
The Act itself doesn't exempt constitutional bodies. (See accompanying
box for those exempted).
The Delhi High Court is hearing a Law Ministry petition challenging
the Central Information Commission's order demanding from the ministry
access to files related to the transfer of High Court judges between
The ministry's stand on RTI for judges comes at a time when the
judiciary itself appears keen to become more accountable. Chief
justice K. G. Balakrishnan wrote recently to Chief Justices of all
High Courts asking them to make judges declare their assets.
When contacted, the Law Ministry refused to give reasons for its decision.
Its decision is in sharp contrast to the stand taken by the
Parliamentary committee on Law, Justice and Personnel in a report it
gave Parliament in May: "Except the judicial decision making, all
other activities of administration and persons included in the
judiciary are subject to RTI Act."
CJI’’s office comes under purview of RTI Act, says CIC
As reported by CJI’’s office comes under purview of RTI Act, says CIC
Information Officer, Wajahat Habibullah, today said that the office of the Chief Justice of India does come under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Delivering a talk on “Working of Right to Information Act Issues and Challenges” at the Observer Research Foundation, a press release of the foundation quoted Habibullah as saying that the Central Information Commission would hear soon some petitions pending on the issue. The press release further quoted the CIC as saying that he had had discussions with the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariat to improve flow of information regarding the functioning of Members of Parliament.
He said the purview of the RTI went beyond Central and State governments, encompassing any body which has received government funding. This includes institutions like SGPC, Distcoms, Stock Exchanges, aided schools, etc.
According to the press release, the CIC said there is a need to effect changes in the training of government officials where they are told not to impart with government information to public though they themselves are paid from the public money of tax payers.
The CIC described as “complete anachronism” the Official Secrets Act of 1923. He said the Commission has suggested to the government to repeal it, but no progress has been made in this regard.
Noting that in some cases even the PIOs (principal information officers) themselves were not aware of their roles, the CIC was quoted by the press release as saying that though there many issues to be tackled, he has no doubt that the RTI Act has become a powerful tool even for the weak and illiterate people to get information which otherwise would have been near to impossible to get.
“This is the Act people can use and will use it,” the CIC said, noting that the largest users in Delhi are slum dwellers and women.
He said now the NREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) has also been brought under the RTI Act, which rural people are using.
The CIC said there is an urgent need to bring in uniformity and homogeneity of the fees under RTI Act to make it easier and affordable to all citizens. He also felt that the Commission should be empowered to take contempt action in case of poor compliance to improve compliance level.
He also admitted that the victimisation fear among some applicants is also a real problem which needs to be addressed.
The CIC welcomed the suggestion of the President of ORF Centre for Politics and Governance, Mr. Surendra Singh, that ORF would like to present the Commission its study on the various aspects connected with the RTI Act and how to make it more effective.
Surendra Singh, a former Cabinet Secretary, said though RTI has made lots of progress, there are still many issues which needed to be tackled. He listed coverage of the RTI Act, awareness among citizens, the userfriendliness, the cost factor, the impact of Official Secrets Act, fear of victimisation among applicants, etc as some of the issues impacting the effectiveness of the RTI Act. (ANI)