Can't destroy institutions in name of transparency: SC

Can't destroy institutions in name of transparency: SC

The Supreme Court. DH file photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday said some of good candidates were withdrawing themselves from the post of judges over the possibility of negative publicity they may attract if their candidature was rejected.

"In the name of transparency, you can't destroy the institution. There was a case where a district judge was being considered for the Madras High Court. Ultimately, he was not deemed fit and the reasons were set out. The result was that then he didn't even get an extension of two years which everybody gets as a matter of rule because he was not found fit to be a high court judge," a five-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said.

The top court said nobody was for a system of opaqueness or wanted to remain in the state of darkness but the question was of drawing a line.

The bench, also comprising Justices N V Ramana, D Y Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna, heard arguments and reserved its judgement on three appeals filed in 2010 by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court respectively against the orders of the Delhi High Court holding that the office of the CJI comes under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, cited the landmark S P Gupta case to contend that nondisclosure of documents and information would cause greater harm to public interest.

"People should be able to know what the various agencies are saying about the candidates bring considered for appointment to the post of judges," Bhushan said.

Bhushan referred to the NJAC Act judgement to assert that there can't be class exemption from disclosure of information relating to appointment of judges. He opposed the contention that information on the judge selection process belonged to a class of documents which, if disclosed, will affect the independence of judiciary.

The bench, however, said if a judge has sought a voluntary transfer on account of him suffering from a disease, that is not an information that can be put in public domain.