Monday, December 28, 2009

JUDGES AND THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT - By Justice Shylendra Kumar



JUDGES AND THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT

Who are the judges afraid of;
What are the judges afraid of;


It is a matter of utmost paradox that the Chief Justice of the most powerful Supreme Court in the world should be expressing, apprehension for the safety and security of the judges of the superior courts in this country by saying that revealing the particulars of assets of the judges and throwing open the information to public domain may result in harassment to judges and in turn prevent the judges from performing their duties without fear or favour. He has also expressed his fear that this may impair the independence of judges and affect their functioning.

It is equally ironic that the apprehension should have been expressed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, that too in an interview given to a news daily and as the Chief Justice of the Apex Court of the country and in the context of the applicability or otherwise of the provisions of Right to Information Act [RTI Act], a piece of legislation which was commended for legislation by the very Supreme Court in terms of its judgment in PEOPLES UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES vs UNION OF INDIA [AIR 2002 SC 2112J]. This Judgment upholds the high moral principle that the rule of law should operate uniformly; that the Constitution is above every one; that rights of citizens guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, i.e. right of expression, should outweigh the personal difficulties and hardships that can be pleaded by persons occupying high positions and serving as public servants. It must be remembered that the Supreme Court had emphatically ruled that no immunity can be claimed by any person, including one holding a constitutional position on the ground of any possible exposure to harassment and consequential difficulties if the particulars of the assets held by persons in such high public positions are revealed and made public. As is well known, the Right to Information Act was enacted with the object to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens by, ensuring access to information on any given issue.


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