Hyderabad: A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, comprising Justices DY Chandrachud, Sanjiv Khanna, Deepak Gupta, and NV Ramana, pronounced the landmark judgement of bringing the office of Chief Justice of India under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) on Wednesday.
Stating that “transparency doesn’t undermine judicial independence”, the Constitution Bench upheld the Delhi High Court judgement of 2010, which ruled that the office of Chief Justice of India (CJI) comes under the purview of RTI.
However, the Supreme Court said, while passing the judgment, that transparency cannot undermine judicial freedom and cautioned that RTI cannot be used as a tool of surveillance.
“Nobody is for a system of opaqueness. Nobody wants to remain in darkness. Nobody wants to keep anyone in darkness. The question is where we draw the line. Somewhere a line has to be drawn. In the name of transparency, you cannot destroy the institution,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said on April 4, reserving the judgment.
Activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal filed an RTI in 2007, seeking the details of assets of the judges but the information was denied. He then approached the Central Information Commission (CIC), which asked the apex court to disclose information on the ground that the office of CJI comes within the ambit of the Act. After that, in 2009, this matter was challenged in Delhi High Court, which upheld the order of the CIC.
In 2010, the Supreme Court secretary-general and the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court appealed against the High Court and the Central Information Commission’s (CIC’s) orders. The Constitution Bench had reserved its judgement on April 4, 2019.