Thursday, January 14, 2010

[rti_india] A-G cushions apex court on RTI order




A-G cushions apex court on RTI order




New Delhi: Attorney general G E Vahanvati on Thursday sought to cushion the Supreme Court against the perception that the apex court was keen on moving itself against the Delhi High Court's recent judgment bringing the Chief Justice of India under the purview of RTI Act.

 Vahanvati said the HC itself had said that it was for the Supreme Court to take the final view
on the important, if tricky, issue, in an intervention that comes at a time when the apex court is reeling from the perception of being cussedly opposed to being brought under RTI's ambit.

The AG said, "No sooner than the judgment was given by the full Bench than the judges of the HC themselves granted a certificate to appeal to the Supreme Court certifying that the case involved substantial questions of law and general importance and that in the opinion of the HC, the questions needed to be decided by the Supreme Court."

 Vahanvati, however, stressed that whether to appeal the HC order would be the sole discretion of the apex court judges. He said it was on the Supreme Court's request and because of his conviction that he had argued before the HC questioning the legality of the Central Information Commission order directing furnishing of all information in possession of the CJI under RTI Act.

Vahanvati, however, refrained from taking issue with the HC on the judgment. "Perhaps it is my failing. When I argued, I could not get across to the Bench my views on the issue," he said.

But he argued that the "independence of judiciary cannot be compromised by exposing every aspect of the work of the courts to public scrutiny", the remark, read along with his defence of SC, conveys a lot. Vahanvati said if everything that went on during consultations for the appointment of judges were to be made public, it would encourage allegations against judges. "What happens to the public and personal life of such a judge, who on inquiry may be found to be innocent."

 "The limits and boundaries of RTI vis-à-vis high constitutional authorities like President, PM and CJI need protection if it affects discharge of their constitutional functions."


The Central Information Commission (CIC) has sought legal advice for disclosing information under the RTI Act on cases related to human rights violations by personnel of paramilitary forces. Chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said, "A number of these (human rights violations) cases have come to our notice. We are seeking legal advice on the matter and it will be decided soon by a full bench of the commission."

 According to the second schedule of the Right to Information Act Act 2005, intelligence and security agencies established by the central government, including paramilitary forces, have been kept outside its ambit. However, information related to allegations of corruption and human rights violations can be given. The disclosure of information about human rights violations is made after getting CIC's nod within 45 days. An applicant had asked for details related to human rights violations from all seven paramilitary forces. TNN



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