CJI deferred setting up of constitution bench

New Delhi, Jun 5 (PTI)

Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia has deferred twice the setting up of a Constitution Bench on whether disclosure of correspondence between constitutional authorities on the appointment of judges amounts to interference in the independence of judiciary.

The apex court, in response to an RTI application, has said the file for the setting up of Constitution Bench, as directed by a Bench, on the issue was placed before the Chief Justice of India on December 8, 2010 and January 21, 2011 but on both occasions he directed it to be placed later.

The Supreme Court, in the reply provided to activist S C Agrawal, stated, “The matter was placed before the Chief Justice of India on December 8, 2010. The Chief Justice of India asked the Registrar to place the matter after holidays.”

“After holidays the matter was again placed before Chief Justice of India on January 21, 2011. The Chief Justice of India asked Registrar to place the matter again after holidays,” it said.

The case relates to a petition before the apex court challenging the orders of the Central Information Commission directing disclosure of communication between the Government and Chief Justice of India on the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and superceding of some High Court Chief Judges in the process.

The Bench of Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar in an order on November 26, 2010 had directed to apex court Registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice of India for constitution of a Bench of appropriate strength as the questions raised required “interpretation of Constitution”.

Agrawal in an RTI application sought to know from the apex court whether the directions were followed.

The Bench while hearing the appeal of its Secretary General against the order of the CIC to disclose the correspondence between CJI and Government, had identified three core issues to be decided by a Constitution Bench.

First, whether independence of judiciary demands that such a communication be prohibited from disclosure and whether furnishing it to an RTI applicant amounts to interference in functioning of the judiciary.

Secondly, whether the information cannot be furnished to avoid any erosion in the credibility of the decisions and to ensure a free and frank expression of honest opinion by all the constitutional functionaries, which is essential for effective consultation and for taking the right decision.

Thirdly, whether the information sought is exempt under provisions of the Right to Information Act.  After the decision, Agrawal filed fresh RTI application seeking to know whether the directives to place file before the CJI, in this regard, have been followed or not. The Supreme Court registry refused the disclosure saying it related to an in-house procedure of a court and cannot be made public. The matter went to CIC which directed that it should be disclosed as it is an administrative matter.


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