Increasing the transparency across the judiciary and expanding the ambit of the RTI Act, the Supreme Court brought the office of the Chief Justice of India under the purview of the Right to Information Act on Wednesday. The court declared the office of CJI as public authority under the Act.
The case was being heard by a five-judge Constitution bench. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi led the bench along with Justices NV Ramana, DY Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.
According to the reports, Justice Sanjiv Khanna iterated the judgment in public interest and said that the judgment will ensure the maintenance of transparency. He said, “Transparency does not undermine judicial independence.”
'Transparency doesn’t undermine judicial independency', Supreme Court says while upholding the Delhi High Court judgement which ruled that office of Chief Justice comes under the purview of Right to Information Act (RTI). https://t.co/axAjUFzDRr
— ANI (@ANI) November 13, 2019
The bench observed that the public does not need a “system of opaqueness“, however, it also maintained its stand that the judiciary cannot be destroyed in the name of transparency. The bench also said that judicial independence is not any judge’s privilege, but it is a responsibility cast upon him.
Previously in 2010, Delhi High Court had passed the similar judgment under which it held that the office of the chief justice of India comes within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. The verdict was delivered by a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice AP Shah and Justice Vikramjit Sen and S Muralidhar. Following the verdict, the then CJI KG Balakrishnan opposed the judgment.
Speaking on the verdict, Prashant Bhushan said, “This is not the independence from accountability. Independence of the judiciary means it has to be independent of the executive and not independent from the common public. People are entitled to know as to what public authorities are doing.“