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SC challenges Delhi HC verdict on RTI
Published on 9 Mar. 2010 12:20 AM IST
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The Supreme Court registry Monday moved the apex court challenging the verdict of the Delhi High Court declaring the office of the Chief Justice of India within the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005. The registry filed the lawsuit challenging the high court verdict well before March 12, when the two month deadline to challenge the verdict was to expire later this week. “The present appeal is being preferred by the appellant raising important and substantial questions of law of utmost public importance relating to the interpretation of the RTI Act visa-a-vis the judiciary,” said the lawsuit. “It is respectfully submitted that the present appeal raises important questions relating to the position of the chief justice of India under the constitution,” said the lawsuit adding “the high court verdict proceeded on an entirely erroneous view of the nature of functioning of the Chief Justice of India.” “The appeal also raises questions of far reaching importance relating to the independence of the judiciary and whether this basic feature of the constitution can be whittled down as is sought to be done by the courts below,” the lawsuit added. The apex court registry also submitted in its petition that the Supreme Court is “already seized of the similar matters pertaining to the interpretation and application of the Act to the judiciary.” The petition said that the apex court was already adjudicating another lawsuit on whether the information pertaining to appointment of judges can be revealed under the RTI Act.” The Jan 12 ruling by a three-judge bench of the Delhi High Court had endorsed its earlier Sept 2 ruling, which has asked the CJI to declare the apex court judges’ assets, while holding that the office of the CJI is within the ambit of RTI Act. Reacting to the Sept 2 ruling, the apex court, that declared the judges assets last year, had gone on to challenge the high court ruling before a larger bench of the high court which too dismissed the appeal. In a path-breaking verdict, the Delhi High Court had on January 12 held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the purview of the RTI Act and rejected a Supreme Court appeal, saying judicial independence is not a judge’s personal privilege but a responsibility cast upon him. The verdict was being seen as a setback to Balakrishnan who has consistently been maintaining that his office does not come under the transparency law and hence cannot part with information like disclosure of judges’ assets under it. The petition, though drafted more than a month ago, was filed on Monday by advocate Devdutt Kamat on behalf of the apex court registry and the case would be argued by the Attorney General G E Vahanvati. The apex court will be seeking immediate stay on the High Court rulings otherwise it would be under obligation to reveal information under RTI Act.

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