The country’s top court is unwilling to part with information about its functioning even after a Delhi High Court verdict on the Right to Information (RTI) called for greater transparency in the judiciary.
The Supreme Court has refused to give information on the number of cases in which verdict hasn’t been delivered after it reserved the judgment.
The Delhi High Court, on the other, was prompt in sharing similar information.
Commodore (retd) Lokesh K. Batra wanted to know the figures for such cases for 2007, 2008 and 2009 (up to December 15).
In his reply, Supreme Court Additional Registrar Raj Pal Arora said on January 12 that “data is not maintained in the registry in the matter sought for by you.”
“The matters filed in the Supreme Court are pending/sub judice matters before the hon’ble court till they are decided.”
The information officer even advised Batra to study the SC’s rules and procedure regarding sub judice matters.
Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan had in December warned that delays would lead people to “revolt” and the legal system to crumble.
In 2001, the Supreme Court issued guidelines for the high courts and lower courts, asking them to pronounce verdicts within reasonable time. If a judgment is not delivered within three months from the date of reserving it, any of the parties can move the same high court for an early judgment, it said.
Batra filed another RTI plea for information about cases where arguments had been heard prior to 22 December, 2009 and judgments reserved.
Arora again refused information.
Saying he’ll challenge the “silence”, Batra told Hindustan Times, “The information sought by me is administrative. It has nothing to do with judicial proceedings.”
Supreme Court secretary general M.P. Bhadran said he didn’t know what the information officer had said “but we do not maintain such data”.
The Delhi High Court told Batra that in six cases judgments were reserved prior to December 31, 2007. There were four such cases in 2008 and 367 cases the next year, the court’s information officer said in a January 27 reply.