RTI Act does not apply to my office: Chief Justice of India
As reported in Times of India 20 Apr 2008, 0034 hrs
NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan on Saturday refused to comment on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s categorical statement that "corruption is another challenge we face both in government and the judiciary".
The CJI also clearly said that the office of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court should be out of the purview of RTI.
"The Chief Justice is not a public servant. He is a constitutional authority. RTI does not cover constitutional authorities," the CJI said.
Admitting that the issue of salaries of judges was part of the agenda of two-day conference of chief justices of high courts, he denied that any demand had been made. "When pay structures of others go up, our salary would also increase," the CJI said.
Earlier in the day, the PM, while inaugurating the annual conference of chief ministers and chief justices, had talked of corruption in government and judiciary. However, during the interaction with journalists later, the CJI first said that the PM was talking about corruption cases with the CBI.
Asked if he agreed or disagreed with the PM, he said, "There is no question of agreement or disagreement."
When journalists persisted about how well the in-house mechanism of declaring assets and liabilities is working, the CJI said, "At the time of appointment of judges in the SC they give property statement. In case they purchase any property, information is given in a sealed cover."
He also did not reply to a specific query about how the SC or a high court inquires in case where there is a genuine complaint against a sitting judge.
Another of PM’s suggestion, mooted by the CJI, that the Centre should invoke Article 247 to set up family courts in all states found favour with law minister H R Bhardwaj.
Asked if such a step would not be against the federal principle, Bhardwaj said, "The Family Act is a central act and if a noble cause is suffering, the Centre can intervene. State governments would welcome it."
Disagreement between the law minister and CJI came to fore on the issue of appointment of judges in the SC and high courts.
Denying that he called the collegium an "extra-constitutional authority", Bhardwaj, however, said the present system is acceptable to him only because of the nine-Bench SC order in the advocates-on-record case.
"Every lawyer who argued in favour of the collegium now wants the government to change it. The Constitution clearly states that appointments would be through the aid and advice of the council of ministers. But it was changed by the SC order. Parliament has all the powers to change it but this is not the time," Bhardwaj said.
On his part, the CJI said, "I am bound by the SC order." Bhardwaj reiterated that the Judges Inquiry Bill had not been put in cold storage. After incorporating the changes suggested by the standing committee of Parliament the Bill would be passed by the monsoon session, he said.
In his speech during the inaugural session, the CJI lamented that despite repeated efforts, allocation of funds for starting of new courts is not very encouraging.
"The budget allotment is grossly inadequate to meet the requirements of judiciary...the state should make budgetary provision for starting new courts," he said. The CJI also categorically ruled out evening courts of the Supreme Court.
You said it. It was apt to bring out the newspaper clippings to the notice of this forum. In fact I had tyed almost the same thing but on seeing your attachment I had deleted it. WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA though helpless cannot close our eyes and ears to the view expressed by our Hon'ble Chief Justic of India. Scared of Conempt of Court Act people lioke me ae unable to open our mouth.
The Hon'ble CJI owes an explanation to the Nation as to what does he mean by "Misuse of RTI Act' ". According to him who is misusing it ? WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA or THE BUREAUCRATES among us ? It is impossible for an applicant to misuse the Act. He can only ask for the information He can use that information only after obtaining it. How can he say asking for an information is misuse ? He is asking only what he is entitled for strictly under the enactment made by his representatives in the Parliament.It is said to be complementary to his fundamental Rights. Will he tell the MPs not to ask questions in the Houses fully knowing that some of the questions are asked ...............!!!. If one is not eligible to get the information under RTI Act he won't get it. Further he is not getting it free. He is paying for the information he seek. One has to spent A minimum of Rs.50/- all inclusive to ask an information. Why should the Hon'ble CJI is worried about how does he use the INFORMATION SO GAINED. ? One earns one's wages by working hard. Why should the employeror the State worry about as to how does the employee/cityzen use his wages so long as it is spent for puprposes lawful in his country?
Greatest curse of our Nation is that the most popular media like THE hINDU" too apread disinformation on "THE MISUSE OF RTI STUNT" They are eagerly waiting for some one who matters to utter the words "Misuse of RTI Act" Are they not aware of the innumerable letters to editors on the dismal performances and unlawful orders of the Commissions sent to them by the RTI Activists
WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA seems forgotten that the same Hon'ble CJI, immediately on assuming office of CJI has stated that "The judges are not required to disclose their assets " or something to that effect. What does these statments mean ? We have not forgotton our former Bachelor Prime Minister insisting that the PM' should be brought under the "Lokpal Bill". There is a saying in malyalam that "only those having a boil at his back is scared to cross through the fense" or "Only those who are having money in their purse are afraid of thiefs enroute" etc.
I request our Hon'ble CJI to arrange to give to WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA "Contempt of Courts Act Holiday" for one month and watch the Pindora's box of so called Calpurnias.
As far as the RTI Act 2005 is concerned, we should just be worried about the definition of "Public Authority" as defined in Sec 2(h):
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; c)by any other law made by State Legislature; d)by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any— 1body owned, controlled or substantially financed; 2non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;
The constitutional posts at the Centre (and also similar posts in the States) like President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Council of Ministers, CJI, Attorney General, CAG, etc. are set up under the Constitution - which is covered by 2(h)(a) above. The individual occupying the above post may not be covered under the RTI Act, but the post he is occupying must be having a office, which should be covered under the RTI Act.
The other argument is that if the PMO and the Presidents' Office are covered under RTI, then CJI should also be covered.
For the time being I prefer not to disuss on the defenition of Constitutional Authority. As Mr.Karira has correctly brought, out as for as RTI Act is conmcerned we are not bothered about the so called Constitutional Authorities themselses. We are concerned with the Office of such constitutional Authorities and their activities only. That is good enough for us. For Eg. nothing stops us from asking the PIO of CJI the date on which a particular case was referred to his office. I don't think the CJI can object this. Similarly he cannot claim that being a constitutional authority audit of his accounts should not be carried out by the C&AG. There are always ways and means to sort out such problems when need arise.
This reminds of me a similar situation (I think discussed in some other thread on this forum) when the office of a Chief Minister said that they are not a PA because they do not keep any records.
PA is not defined based on whether there are any "records" or "information" in the office. Its based on the definition in Sec 2(h). In any case, the CM's office is generally staffed by dozens of people. What are they doing ? If there are no "records", no "electronic records", no "information", no "paper" then what is going on in that office ?
At least they must be having a attendance register in the office. Even that is a "record" and some citizen can ask for it.