CIC rejects SC objection on disclosure of info on Bench

It said the information about whether a file for constitution of a bench has been placed before the Chief Justice of India by its Registrar cannot be termed as related to judicial process and should be disclosed under the RTI Act.

Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra rejected the arguments placed by Supreme Court counsel Devdutt Kamat that such information relates to judicial process and cannot be disclosed. The CIC said the information sought by the RTI applicant is plainly administrative in nature.

"Whether the Registry of Supreme Court has placed certain papers before the Chief Justice of India for constitution of a Bench as directed in the Supreme Court order...cannot be deemed to be an information relating to either the in-house procedure of the Supreme Court or the judicial proceedings.

"This information is plainly administrative in nature Besides, this kind of information is not covered under the Supreme Court Rules so that the citizen could approach the appropriate authorities to secure this information under those rules," Mishra held.

The Supreme Court while hearing a case on whether details about appointment of judges should be made public had directed its Registry to place the documents before the Chief Justice of India for setting up a Constitution Bench.

Activist S C Agrawal through an RTI application had sought to know from the Registry whether the orders of placing the file before the Chief Justice of India have been complied with or not. It was refused to him by the Supreme Court.

When the matter reached before the CIC, the apex court officials said such class of information comes under in-house procedure of the Supreme Court and relates to judicial process which cannot be made public.

However, Mishra said there is "no option" for a citizen other than the Right to Information Act for seeking such an information.

"It is difficult to imagine how the disclosure of such information as to whether the Registrar has placed certain papers before the Chief Justice of India in compliance of the orders of the court itself could cause any abrogation of the independence of the judiciary or cause interference in the judicial proceedings of the Court," he said.

Mishra directed the Supreme Court to provide copy of the decision to set-up the Constitution Bench in this matter, if already taken and "complete" information about placing of file before the CJI.

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