The Supreme Court on Wednesday held that the office of Chief Justice of India is a “public authority” and comes under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act while also adding that the transparency only strengthens the judicial independence.
A five-judge Constitution bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices NV Ramana, DY Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna were hearing a petition challenging the January 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court which ruled that office of CJI comes under the purview of RTI.
The apex court said that the public interest demands that the transparency is maintained.
“Right to privacy and confidentiality is an important aspect and it has to be balanced. There has to be a balance between the right to information and the right to privacy as well as confidentiality and independence of the judiciary,’ it said.
Chief Justice Gogoi had earlier observed that in the name of transparency, one cannot destroy the institution.
In November 2007, an RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal had filed an RTI in the Supreme Court seeking information on judges’ assets but the information was denied.
Aggarwal then approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which asked the apex court to disclose information on the ground that the Chief Justice of India’s office comes within the ambit of the Act.
In January 2009, a plea was moved in the Delhi High Court against the CIC order but the latter was upheld.