Keep confidential info with CJI outside RTI ambit: Ex-CJI

Last Updated: Monday, January 25, 2010 - 21:04

Bangalore: Former Chief Justice of India
(CJI), Justice Rajendra Babu on Monday said certain areas, such as
confidential and sensitive information gathered by the CJI on
the appointment of judges, should be kept outside the ambit of
Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Speaking here, Justice Babu said as a public
authority, the CJI discharges several functions including
selection of judges after gathering information from various
sources.

"When he gets all those information, can he disclose all
the information (under RTI)?",he asked.

He recalled an incident during his tenure when he had
asked a SC judge whether to appoint a particular person as a
judge.

"You know what he told me? If you ask me in writing, I
will say `yes` and if you ask me orally, I will say `no`"

"How do you deal with it? In a situation like that, if I
am going to reveal it to the public, will anybody express
himself (when one sought opinion on selection) fully? or with
what confidence can they express ?".

"I am of the view that there are certain areas...it
should not be made available to the general public. It`s not
necessary", Justice Babu, a former Chairman of the National
Human Rights Commission, said.

He said information such as institutional decisions by
CJI, taken after gathering inputs at different levels, should
be kept out of the RTI purview, adding such revelation amounts
to "throwing them to the wolves".

"Thereafter you will attack them (those who gave such
information), condemn them. Nobody will express freely and
frankly. This is one difficulty we have", Justice Babu said.

The Delhi High Court recently held the office of the CJI
is a public authority that comes within the ambit of the RTI
and it is bound to provide information about the declaration
of asset details by Supreme Court judges.

Justice Babu said the process of discussions, dealing
with "files" and gathering of information and things of such
nature should not come under RTI purview.

"We think of the independence of judiciary. If you bring
them under the control of some other authority, how will the
independence of judiciary be maintained?".

Justice Babu, however, saw nothing wrong in public
scrutiny of the judiciary. "Public scrutiny...it`s good. Let
them (the judges) be under scrutiny. But scrutiny by itself
will not affect the independence of judges", he said.

He said what`s important is how a judge conducted himself
in court.

"Better if there is peer control; better if there is
professional control. People do that way....rather than
somebody (scrutinising Judges) who does not have knowledge
about it and they will go far beyond a point".

"I (a Judge) must command the respect of my colleagues;
I must command the respect of my profession. I must be a good
Judge; need not be a popular Judge", he said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 25, 2010 - 21:04

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