New Delhi, November 13: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a ‘public authority’ and would come under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said, “Transparency does not undermine judicial independence.”The Bench, which also included Justice NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, upheld the Delhi High Court 2010 decision declaring that the CJI’s office was amenable to the transparency law.
The Bench, however, said there was a need to strike a balance between right to privacy and right to information.Noting that judicial independence could not be achieved by denying information, the Bench said, “Judicial independence and accountability go hand in hand…Transparency strengthens judicial independence.”
“Judicial independence does not mean judges are above the law,” it said.
The Constitution Bench had on April 4 reserved its verdict on the appeals filed in 2010 by the Supreme Court Secretary General and its central public information officer against the orders passed by the Delhi High Court and the Central Information Commission (CIC).
In a landmark verdict on January 10, 2010, the Delhi High Court had held that the office of the Chief Justice of India came within the ambit of the RTI Act, saying judicial independence was not a judge’s privilege, but a responsibility cast upon him.