In a setback to transparency in judiciary, the Delhi high court on Thursday set aside a Central Information Commission order that directed the Supreme Court’s information officer to give information on the number of cases in which verdict hasn’t been delivered after completion of hearing.
“We do not find any other provision under the (RTI) Act under which a direction can be issued to the public authority to collate the information in the manner in which it is sought by the applicant,” said a division bench of chief justice G Rohini and justice Jayant Nath.
The HC reversed a 2014 order of a single judge who had upheld the CIC’s order directing the Supreme Court registry to maintain the records in a manner so that information regarding the period for which the judgments are pending after being reserved is available with the top court.
RTI activist Commodore (Retd) Lokesh K Batra wanted to know the figures for such cases for 2007, 2008 and 2009. However, the Supreme Court’s CPIO refused to give information saying “data is not maintained in the registry in the manner sought for”.
The top court had been cagey about sharing information regarding its functioning.
Supreme Court Additional Registrar had said “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”.
In 2001, the Supreme Court had 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 had said. Batra told HT, “I will challenge the verdict after consulting with my lawyer.”