The Supreme Court on Monday filed an appeal before itself challenging the judgement of Delhi High Court holding that the office of the Chief Justice of India came under the ambit of the RTI Act and was liable to reveal information under it.
The petition, which has been filed after CJI K G Balakrishnan had consultation with his fellow judges, raised the point that information held by the CJI is sensitive in nature and its revelation would hamper the judiciary's independence.
The petition, though drafted more than a month ago, was filed today 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.
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.
Holding that CJI is a public authority under the Act, a full bench of the High Court headed by Chief Justice A P Shah said judges of the superior courts should make public their assets as they are not "less accountable" than the judicial officers of lower courts who are bound by service rules to declare assets.
The Bench dismissed the plea of the Supreme Court which had vehemently opposed bringing CJI's office within the purview of the Act on the ground that it would encroach into its judicial independence. "Judicial independence is not the personal privilege or prerogative of the individual Judge," the Bench had said in its judgement. PTI