Details about medical information, personal relations, employee records and professional income of judges can be classified as "personal" and their disclosure would be based on a case-to-case basis depending on public interest, Supreme Court judge D Y Chandrachud said on Wednesday.
Justice Chandrachud, who was part of the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi which held that office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority and falls within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, said that disclosure of information about the conduct of judges and their administration is necessary to ensure that broader societal goals in the administration of justice are achieved.
"It emerges from the discussion that certain category of information such as medical information, details of personal relations, employee records and professional income can be classified as personal information. The question of whether such information must be disclosed has to be determined by the CPIO on a case to case basis, depending on the public interest demonstrated in favour of disclosure," he said in his 113-page verdict.
With regard to fiduciary relationship between Supreme Court Judges and Chief Justice of India on assets information, Justice Chandrachud said there exists no fiduciary relationship between them.
"The Chief Justice of India is not entrusted with the power to protect and further the interests of individual judges who disclose their assets. The information is required by the mandate of the resolution dated May 7, 1997 passed by all the then sitting judges of the Supreme Court and it cannot be said that such information is being provided in any personal capacity. The Chief Justice of India merely holds the information in accordance with the official functions and not in any fiduciary capacity," he said.
He said that the judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India occupy a constitutional office and there exists no set hierarchies between the judges and they enjoy the same judicial powers and immunities.
"The judges who disclose their assets cannot be said to be vulnerable to and dependent on the Chief Justice of India. In these circumstances, it cannot be held that asset information shared with the Chief Justice of India, by the judges of the Supreme Court, are held by him in a fiduciary capacity, which if revealed, would result in breach of fiduciary duty," he said.
While rejecting the argument that the information sought is held in a fiduciary capacity, Justice Chandrachud said it is inapplicable and cannot be used to prevent the information from being made public.