SC to appeal before itself on RTI row

SC to appeal before itself on RTI row

The appeal, though drafted more than a month ago, could not be brought on record before the registry due to a technical glitch but the same would be formalised after the court reopens on Monday after a week-long Holi recess, official sources told PTI.
The sources said that CJI K G Balakrishnan had consultations with other apex court judges on the issue and the grounds taken by it in the appeal are identical to the stand taken in the High Court that disclosure of information held by the CJI would hamper independence of judiciary.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati would argue the matter on behalf of the apex court registry when it is listed for hearing shortly.Sources said the apex court would seek a stay on the operation of the High Court direction and would plead for referring it to a larger Bench or the Constitution Bench.

The sources said the appeal was filed after much deliberations as initially there were differences among the apex court judges on whether to go for an appeal or not.
In a path-breaking verdict, the Delhi High Court had on January 12 held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the purview of the RTI Act and rejected a Supreme Court appeal saying judicial independence is not a judge's personal privilege but a responsibility cast upon him.

The verdict was being seen as a setback to Balakrishnan who has consistently been maintaining that his office does not come under the transparency law and hence cannot part with information like disclosure of judges' assets under it.

Holding that CJI is a public authority under the Act, a full bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice A P Shah said judges of the superior courts should make public their assets as they are not "less accountable" than the judicial officers of lower courts who are bound by service rules to declare assets.

The Bench dismissed the plea of the Supreme Court which had vehemently opposed bringing CJI's office within the purview of the Act on the ground that it would encroach into its judicial independence.
"Judicial independence is not the personal privilege or prerogative of the individual Judge," the Bench had said in its judgement.

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