Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi do not seem to agree on whether the office of the chief justice of India should be kept within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Singh is understood to have informed Sonia that it was necessary to amend the existing law, brought by the UPA government during its first term, to “address the concerns of the judiciary.”
Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan had written to Singh in November 2009, seeking exemption from the RTI law in matters related to appointment of judges and other administrative decisions, sources said.
Once they got wind of the letter, many NGOs and activists approached Sonia to oppose any move to dilute the RTI Act.
Sonia is believed to have written to the Prime Minister about two months back, opposing any changes in the act, and emphasizing the need to properly implement it.
Singh, however, is in favour of streamlining the Act, but only after consulting all stakeholders. He is understood to have written to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which implements the act, to assess whether any changes are possible.
One of the reasons for the exercise could be the approaching deadline for the Supreme Court to challenge the January 12 judgment of the Delhi High Court, which put the CJI’s office under the RTI Act.
The top court has roughly a week left to challenge the HC verdict before itself, a move which is likely to draw criticism from activists. It was given 60 days time to appeal against the judgment.