The government on Friday asked the law ministry for its opinion on the possibility of moving the Supreme Court against Thursday’s judgment that ordered judges be appointed to central and state information commissions.
The SC held the transparency watchdogs were “judicial tribunals” and the job would be “better performed” by a legally qualified and trained mind.
A government source said the department of personnel and training (DoPT) — the nodal body for the right to information law — had raised questions about the judgment that held the potential to change the face of the transparency law.
The entire idea of keeping the judiciary out of the RTI appeals was to keep the system informal, simple and quick, not where you have to hire a lawyer to make your case and hear the case for days.
“If the RTI Act runs afoul of the Constitution, the court should have struck down the offending provisions,” a senior government official said, wondering how retired judges could head the panel when they retire at 65.
Officials said the department was planning to file a petition in the SC with a request to be heard by a larger bench.
For a change, RTI activists who are usually at loggerheads with the government, were on the same side.
RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal called the SC judgment a classic example of judicial overreach that would introduce practical issue. Commodore (retd) Lokesh Batra said one of the best things about the information commissions was that it did not have the trappings of a court. “If the SC judgment was to be implemented, it would require each appeal to be heard by two commissioners rather than one,” he said.