The Chief Justice of India on Wednesday said the full court of the Supreme Court will decide whether to challenge the Delhi High Court verdict bringing his office within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
“It is not for me. It is for the full court to decide… Last time also, the full court took the decision to appeal,” KG Balakrishnan told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association to bid farewell to Justice Tarun Chatterjee, who retired on Wednesday.
Balakrishnan, however, refused to comment further. “I have not seen the judgment so far. Let me see it. So far, I have only seen your valuable report.”
The high court verdict was hailed by experts as historic and being seen as a setback for Balakrishnan, who had maintained that his office could not be brought under the RTI act.
A three-judge bench of the high court, headed by Chief Justice AP Shah, on Tuesday held that the CJI’s office came under the ambit of the RTI and rejected the Supreme Court’s contention that bringing the CJI’s office within the RTI act would “hamper” judicial independence.
“Democracy expects openness and openness is concomitant of free society. Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” the bench said, adding, “Judicial independence is not a privilege to a judge but a responsibility.”
It also declared the RTI a fundamental right under Articles 14 (right to equality), 19(1)(a) (right to freedom of speech and expression) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
“The higher the judge is placed in the judicial hierarchy, the greater the standard of accountability and the stricter the scrutiny of accountability of such mechanism,” it said.