Chief Justice of India comes under the ambit of RTI

This is such an extraordinary step taken by our country. In a landmark verdict on January 10, 2010, the Delhi High Court had held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) law, saying judicial independence was not a judge’s privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him. The Supreme Court ruled that the office of Chief Justice of India (CJI) comes under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The outcome is that the office of the CJI will now entertain RTI applications. It opens the door for transparency in the judiciary. It can give a boost to Good Governance, as now judiciary, executive, legislature, all come under the ambit of RTI Act.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the CJI’s office is a “public authority”. The judgement places the CJI’s office under the RTI Act with certain conditions. A five – judge Constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi passed the order. The order was passed on a petition filed by Secretary – General of the SC. The petition had challenged Delhi HC’s order of declaring CJI’s office a “public authority”. The Court had also said that the office should come under the RTI Act. The Supreme Court, however, said that confidentiality and right to privacy have to be maintained. The judgement also prevents RTI from being misused as a tool of surveillance.

RTI was brought to ensure transparency in the system. This shows that every person is equal before law. The clarification by the Supreme Court that even judges come under the ambit of RTI is a welcome change. Bringing CJI under the redar of RTI makes it a more democratic institution, more accessible and closer to the people.

The Supreme Court is a “public authority” and the office of the CJI is part and parcel of the institution. Hence, if the Supreme Court is a public authority, so is the office of the CJI. The judiciary cannot function in total insulation as judges enjoy a constitutional post and discharge public duty.

Transparency and accountability should go hand – in – hand. Increased transparency under RTI was no threat to judicial independence. The main essentials of RTI are to bring in transparency and accountability. This is a very great step taken by the Supreme Court to include the judges within the ambit of meaning of public officials. Judiciary being an important institution of the country, this is a welcome step towards development.

This was a much needed step to strengthen our democracy and ensure accountability of the institutions that govern and regulate our country.

Aishwarya Says:

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