The national information watchdog and Right to Information (RTI) activists have given a thumbs down to the statement of outgoing Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan that landmark laws including the RTI Act were enacted as a result of “judicial interventions”.
The Central Information Commission and RTI activists appreciated the judiciary’s role in taking forward the transparency movement before the RTI Act came into existence in October 2005, but have termed its attitude as “unfortunate” after the law became a reality.
CJI Balakrishnan, who retires on Tuesday, had on Saturday said: “In recent years, the enactment of the RTI Act, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act are some prominent examples of far-reaching legislations whose origin can be attributed to judicial interventions in some part.”
Asked for a response to the CJI’s statement, Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi said :“The judicial pronouncements in various cases since 1976 have definitely contributed to the RTI movement, however, after the Act was made by parliament, the judiciary has not really been forthcoming.”.
Gandhi said it was “unfortunate” that the implementation of the RTI Act in judiciary has been resisted. “The judiciary needs to decide on the parameters of implementation of the RTI Act,” he added. “The question is what has the judiciary done to help the transparency movement after the RTI Act became a reality?” he said.
RTI activist and Magsaysay award-winner Arvind Kejriwal appealed that the CJI “introspect”. “I am surprised that the judiciary turned antagonistic to the RTI Act after it came into existence. The judiciary had a role in the information law becoming a reality, but the turn of events over four years hasn’t been encouraging,” he said.
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibulah, said there were “some differences on the implementation of the Act ,” but overall the courts have played a positive role.