In a significant verdict aimed towards bringing greater transparency in the judiciary, the Delhi High Court on Thursday asked the registrar of the Supreme Court to maintain a compilation of pending cases, which had been heard and orders reserved.
"Indisputably, the period for which a case remains pending after the arguments, is relevant for any citizen who desires to know about the pendency of cases before the Supreme Court," Justice Vibhu Bakhru remarked.
The HC upheld the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) directing the Central Public Information Officer of the Supreme Court (CPIO) to provide information regarding pending cases on an RTI request made by RTI activist Commodore Lokesh K Batra.
The CIC had further directed that if the information was centrally not available, the necessary arrangement be made in future for compiling such information and disclosing it in the public domain.
The high court observed that the information regarding cases where the order has been reserved is information that is contained in the documents, including orders passed by courts, that are available with the registry of the SC.
Apparently, the CPIO of the SC had denied the RTI request to provide data of those cases whose argument are heard and judgment have been reserved since December 2009, saying it did not maintained the data in the manner sought by Batra.
Saying that the CIC’s order, "Does not in any manner seek to alter, add or amend any practice or procedure of the court," the HC added, "The order is limited to ensure that records are arranged and maintained in a manner so as to facilitate access to certain information."
In 2010, the high court had in another case held that the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a "public authority" that comes within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and it is bound to provide information about the declaration of asset details by the apex court judges.
Commenting on the Thursday verdict, Batra said, "It is gratifying that justice has been done after five years of battle."