Thursday, November 26, 2009

RTI versus Supreme Court of India - Round two

Round one of RTI (Right to information) vs Supreme court of India was practically won by RTI when Delhi High court upheld that information on judges' assets held by SC was under purview of RTI.

Read full news below about Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) asking Supreme Court (SC) to reveal details about selection of judges to the SC:

Excerpt from the news:

NEW DELHI: In a ruling that seeks to lift the veil of secrecy from judicial functioning, Central Information Commission has directed Supreme
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Court to disclose information relating to judges' appointments and the complete correspondence between Madras High Court judge Justice R Raghupati and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). Justice Raghupati had claimed in open court that a Union minister had called him to influence a case. The CIC has asked for the information to be given within 15 days.

Describing the appointment of judges as that of overriding public interest, CIC recently asked SC to make public the records of appointing three judges to the apex court who superseded their seniors.

In the first case, chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah ruled that personal details could be severed but correspondence between authorities relating to appointment of Justices H L Dattu, A K Ganguly and R M Lodha, who superseded Justices A P Shah, A K Patnaik and V K Gupta, should be made public. RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had asked for the information but his plea was rejected by the SC registry saying it did not have the information and later pleaded before the commission that it was held in fiduciary relationship with the CJI hence could not be given under the RTI Act.

"The recommendation of appointment of Justices is decidedly a public activity conducted in the overriding public interest. Hence, the plea of seeking exemption under the definition of fiduciary relationship cannot stand, and even if accepted in technical terms, will not withstand the test of public interest,'' the ruling said.

Also further in news:

In the second case, CIC has sought from the SC the name of the Union minister who had allegedly approached Justice Raghupati to influence his decision, and the complete correspondence with CJI in the matter.

Justice Raghupati had alleged in open court a few months ago that a Union minister, through his lawyer, spoke to him on telephone seeking favours in a case being probed by CBI.

Comments: It is good that RTI is being used to finally break the strong resistance being put up by Supreme court of India in name of judicial independence. Wonder from who they need judicial independence? From citizens?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Justice Shylendra Kumar's views on contempt of court

Remember Justice Shylendra Kumar of Karnataka High Court? ... the same person who took on CJI Balakrishnan and the old-thinking judges on assets declaration issue! He does not seem to be too enamoured of standards of his own fellow judges.

Justice Shylendra at it again

Excerpts from news and my comments below:

“There is a dogma that one should not question the chief justice’s views. But the judge who has taken the oath to perform his duties should not hesitate to extend his views if he feels something is not right. But how many judges do that?’’ he questioned.

Comments: This is the right attitude which a public also expects from a judge. If a judge cannot stand for his oath and what's right in face of opposition, then who can public put trust in when they approach courts for justice?

Venting his ire
further, he said: “There is another big misconception called the contempt of the court or scandalising the court. How can a court be scandalised? It is an institution. It is only the people inside the court who are scandalised. This contempt of court is now misused to gag people, and journalists who voice their concerns are the main targets.’’

Comments: How rightly said -- "How can a court be scandalized?" Scandals are targeted on persons and not on an institution. So where is the need to protect some judges in the name of institution? Let corrupt judges be swept away and be replaced by honest ones. That alone will give confidence to public and restore the dignity and respect an institution ought to deserve.

Contempt of court has become a hanging sword on any person who wants to express views on the functioning of courts and judges.