Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advocated changes in the Right to Information Act following a letter by the Chief Justice of India, who virtually asked for his office to be kept out of purview of the landmark law.
Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, in a letter to Singh, within a fortnight of the Delhi High Court judgment on September 2 last year — declaring that his office was covered under the RTI— asked for an amendment in the law.
The letter has been released by the Prime Minister’s Office in response to an RTI query by Delhi-based activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
“I earnestly and sincerely feel that the RTI Act needs to be suitably amended by inserting another specific clause to the effect that any information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the independence of the judiciary should be exempt from disclosure,” he said in the three-page letter.
Justice Balakrishnan slammed the framers of the RTI Act for having failed to visualize “the far reaching implications” of the information law for the judiciary, while drafting the bill.
“Quite frequently, information of highly confidential and sensitive nature of matters handled by the CJI, is being sought to be disclosed under the RTI Act provisions by applicant citizens, but such information has to be refused,” he wrote.
The CJI has cited the example of matters of appointment of judges. “Written opinions/ views as to suitability of prospective candidates obtained from informed/ conversant judges and/ or other constitutional authorities forming part of record of CJI’s office fall in such category.”
Following the CJI’s letter, RTI activists had approached the Congress president Sonia Gandhi, asking her to reject any move to amend the law.
In her letter to the Prime Minister on November 10 last year, Gandhi had stated that there was no need to amend the existing law.
In his reply on December 24, Singh had insisted some changes were required.