Info panel review plea hearing: SC ticks off Centre
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday ticked off the Centre saying it may "throw out" its review plea against the verdict for appointment of people from judicial background in information panels for not answering its posers properly.
"You are not answering the court's questions. Either you answer the questions intellectually or if you argue this way, we will throw out your review petition," a bench of justices AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar told Additional Solicitor General Amarjit Singh Chandiok, amid sharp exchanges between them.
Chandiok, in turn, shot back saying "if there is an anxiety to dismiss it, there is no problem."
Interrupting him from making further submission, the bench said, "You are only howling and shouting. If you are not capable of answering with intellect, don't howl and shout."
The bench made the remarks after telling him that he was not answering the questions to which it was seeking answers.
As the ASG began making submission, the bench wanted him to point out errors in its September 13 verdict, which had also enumerated the qualifications needed for the appointment of members of the Central Information Commission and state information panels.
Insisting upon making arguments, Chandiok said, "Let me allow to make submission on poor form of intellect."
The bench concluded the day's hearing on a sombre note saying "this is a good Act, and for us this is a new Act, so educate us and please make us clear".
In a lighter vein, the bench also said, "There should be no punches from that side. We can also give back punches. We have also been in the Bar."
During the hearing, the bench wanted to know as to where it has gone wrong in its September 13 judgement, but was told by the ASG that the law does not provide for adjudication and only information has to be given under the transparency law.
He made submissions on various technicalities of the Right to Information Act before the hearing was adjourned for tomorrow.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for former Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi and transparency activist Aruna Roy, said there was a need for more transparency in the appointment of information officers and there was a serious problem about competence of panel members.
During the last hearing, the court had said its verdict for appointment of people from judicial background in info panels was not aimed at rehabilitating judges but to make the panels independent of government's influence.
The apex court in its verdict had held that like other quasi judicial bodies, people from judicial background should be appointed as members of the Central and state information commissions and this should be done after consulting the CJI and chief justices of the respective high courts. It had also asked the government to amend RTI Act for it.
The bench had passed the order on a PIL challenging sections 12 and 15 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 enumerating the qualifications needed for the appointment of members of the commissions.
Currently, none of the eight members of the Central Information Commission (CIC), including the Chief Information Commissioner, is from judicial background.
The CIC comprises one Chief Information Commissioner and 10 information commissioners.