Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CIC asks SC for information on judges’ elevation

CIC asks apex court for information on judges’ elevation

New Delhi, Nov 25 (IANS): The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Supreme Court to reveal information about the elevation of three high court chief justices to the apex court superseding the seniority of three others.

The action came on a Right to Information (RTI) application of activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who sought to know how were Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice A.K. Ganguly and Justice R.M. Lodha elevated and appointed to the Supreme Court, superseding Justice A.P. Shah, Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice V.K. Gupta.

Supreme Court judges are selected by a collegium of the five senior most judges of the apex court headed by the Chief Justice of India.

However, the court refused to entertain Agrawal’s plea, saying that the information sought is “neither maintained nor available” with it.

The applicant approached the first appellate authority, which also denied him the information. Agrawal then approached the CIC.

Stating that the “appointment of justices is decidedly a public activity conducted in the overriding public interest”, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in his Nov 24 order said: “The information sought by appellant will now be provided to him within 15 working days”.


Also read the related stories

"Judges to decide" on CIC direction, says CJI

PTI Thursday, November 26, 2009 20:45 IST

New Delhi: Chief justice of India KG Balakrishnan today said the "judges will decide" on the response to the Central Information Commission's (CIC) direction to the apex court to ensure transparency in the appointment of judges; while law minister Veerapan Moily skirted his reply.

"Our judges will decide," was all that the chief justice would say when asked by reporters on the CIC's recent direction to the supreme court registry on the issue.

He was speaking on the sidelines of National Law Day celebrations held at the supreme court premises.

Declining to comment Moily remarked, "They have passed an order, what interpretation can I give?

The chief justice also refused to be drawn into a discussion on another direction of the CIC to the apex court registry to disclose within 15 days the name of the Union minister who allegedly tried to influence a Madras high court judge in a pending matter.

"I do not communicate with any of the judges of the high courts," he said, while declining to entertain any further questions on the issue.

The CIC had in one direction held that the appointment of judges is a "public activity" which cannot be withheld from disclosure, and asked the supreme court to make public the records of appointing three justices of the apex court who superseded their seniors.

RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had sought complete correspondence between authorities concerned relating to appointment of justices HL Dattu, AK Ganguly and RM Lodha superseding seniority of justices AP Shah, AK Patnaik and VK Gupta.

The plea was rejected by the Registry of Supreme Court saying it did not have the information and later pleaded before the Commission that it was held in fiduciary relationship with the Chief Justice of India, hence cannot be given under the RTI Act.

In another direction the CIC had asked the supreme court to disclose the name of the Union minister, who allegedly tried to influence Madras high court judge R Raghupathi in a pending case.

The CIC had also asked the registry to furnish the purported correspondence between the chief justice and the judge.


Name minister who approached Madras HC judge, CIC to SC

Name minister who approached Madras HC judge, CIC to SC

Updated on Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 18:42 IST

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has sought from the Supreme Court the name of the Union Minister, who had allegedly approached a judge of the Madras High Court to influence his decision, and the complete correspondence with Chief Justice of India in the matter.

Justice R Raghupathi of the Madras High Court in the open court had a few months ago alleged that a Union Minister, through his lawyer, spoke to him on telephone seeking favours in a case being probed by CBI.

RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal had sought the complete correspondence in the matter from the apex court along with name of Union minister who allegedly approached Justice R Raghupathy, an information which was denied to him by the apex court.

Agrawal quoted media reports claiming that Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had said that Justice Raghupathy had written to Chief Justice of the Madras High Court that the minister had not spoken to him directly.

"The information sought in respect of all questions...will now be provided to appellant within 15 days," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.

He, however, exempted from disclosing answers to two questions dealing with in-house procedure of the court and questioning "the conduct of Justices of the High Court" saying response could impinge upon the exalted status granted to such Justices.



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The RTI Act was passed by the Lok Sabha (Lower House) on 11 May 2005, by the Raj Sabha (Upper House) on 12 May 2005 and received Presidential assent on 15 June 2005. Parts of the Act came into force upon Presidential assent, but the Act came fully into force on 12 October 2005, 120 days after Presidential assent.

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