New Delhi: Transparency activists Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision on bringing the office of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) under the ambit of the RTI Act. They said that the apex court has reiterated the established position in law in the matter.
“I welcome the decision of the constitution bench to reiterate the established position in law that the CJI is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,” said Venkatesh Nayak, head of access to information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO.
In a landmark verdict, a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi upheld the 2010 Delhi High Court verdict that the office of the CJI comes within the ambit of the RTI law and dismissed the three appeals filed by Secretary General of the Supreme Court and the Central Public Information Officer of the apex court.
About the Supreme Court’s remark that RTI cannot be used as a tool of surveillance, Nayak termed it as ‘extremely unfortunate’ observation.
“It is extremely unfortunate that an observation has been made that RTI can be a tool for surveillance on the judiciary. Surveillance has unfortunately been equated with transparency that is required under a law duly passed by Parliament,” Venkatesh Nayak told this agency.
“People whose cases relating to their life, liberty, property and rights are decided by the high courts and the Supreme Court have the right to know not only the criteria but all materials that formed the basis of making the decision regarding appointments of judges in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act,” said Nayak.
Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also hailed the top court’s decision.
“It is a very good decision of the Supreme Court. I had expected the same decision to come as logically there is nothing else. It is unfortunate that it has taken 10 years. The CIC has upheld this. The Delhi HC had also upheld this. Now, the SC has upheld this. All public servants that are paid by the government are doing public service, no matter what the position is? You need to be accountable for your work. I congratulate the Chief Justice and the court for having given such a decision,” stated Gandhi.
RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal hailed the top court’s verdict. “I welcome the Supreme Court’s verdict. It is a victory of the RTI Act,” he said.
Another activist Ajay Dubey stated that the the apex court’s decision was ‘historic’. “It is a historic decision and I welcome it. All decisions made by a public authority must be in public domain and under the RTI Act,” pointed out Dubey.
Dubey, however, expressed shock over the top court’s remark that RTI Act cannot be used as a tool of surveillance.