The Supreme Court on Tuesday admitted to have committed a “patent error” by directing that only sitting or retired high court chief justices or an SC judge can head information commissions.
Conceding that its September 13, 2012 verdict, directing government to amend the Right to Information Act to pave way for the appointment of judicial members as information commissioners, encroached upon the legislative domain, the SC recalled the directions stating that the judgment “suffered from mistake of law.”
“As the judgment under review suffers from mistake of law, we allow the review petitions, recall the directions and declarations in the judgment under review,” held a bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice AK Sikri allowing a bunch of review petitions seeking a recall of the 2012 order.
“Legislature confers discretion on the rule-making authority to make rules. In the judgment under review, therefore, this court made a patent error in directing the rule-making authority to make rules within 6 months,” it said.
The reviewed verdict was authored by Justice Swantanter Kumar, who has since retired. The bench also comprising Justice Patnaik had said the government should prefer “a person who is or has been a judge of the HC for appointment as information commissioners.”
Agreeing with the issues raised by the review petitioners, the SC said it was prompted to pass the direction to amend the transparency law as information commissions in the past have passed many orders that are beyond the provisions of the RTI Act.
However, it said it was for the Parliament and not judiciary to consider whether appointment of judicial members in the information commissions would improve its functioning.