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RTI Plea Seeking Details Of Supreme Court Collegium's December 2018 Meeting Rejected By CIC

Sparsh Upadhyay
22 Dec 2021 10:36 AM GMT
RTI Plea Seeking Details Of Supreme Court Collegiums December 2018 Meeting Rejected By CIC
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The Central Information Commission (CIC) in a recent decision upheld an order of the First Appellate Authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act denying information sought regarding the decisions taken by the Supreme Court Collegium in a meeting held on December 12, 2018. Importantly, activist Anjali Bhardwaj had filed an RTI Application seeking information about SC's Collegium meet...

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The Central Information Commission (CIC) in a recent decision upheld an order of the First Appellate Authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act denying information sought regarding the decisions taken by the Supreme Court Collegium in a meeting held on December 12, 2018.

Importantly, activist Anjali Bhardwaj had filed an RTI Application seeking information about SC's Collegium meet on December 12, 2018, wherein the then SC collegium, comprising the Chief Justice of India Justice Gogoi and four senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court viz. Mr. Justice Madan B. Lokur, A.K Sikri, S.A Bobde and N.V Ramana took certain decisions regarding the appointment of judges.

However, since the decisions/details of the meeting were not uploaded on the SC website and in a subsequent meeting, the decisions were overturned, Bhardwaj moved an RTI application seeking details of the same.

The Public Information Officer of the Supreme Court denied the information sought by Bhardwaj citing section 8(1) (b), (e), and (J) of the RTI Act.

[NOTE: Section 8 of the RTI Act deals with Exemption from disclosure of information. Further, S. 8(1) (b) exempts the disclosure of information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court,

Also, S. 8 (e) deals with information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship] and S. 8 (j) is regarding information that relates to personal information of the RTI Act.]

Thereafter, Bhardwaj moved before the First Appellate Authority under the Act, however, it upheld the decision of the PIO but it held that the reasons given by the CPIO to deny the information were not proper.

"...although certain decisions were taken on 12.12.2018, the required consultations could not be taken and completed. Thus, there arises no question of passing any resolution by the collegium on 12.12.2018 as claimed by the Appellant. In the absence of any resolution, the information cannot be supplied to the Appellant," the First Appellate Authority held.

Challenging this order, Bhardwaj finally moved an appeal before the CIC wherein it was her contention that even if no resolution had been passed on December 12, 2018, a copy of the meeting's agenda and the decisions taken therein could not have been denied without citing any exemptions.

The CIC in its decision, however, upheld the denial of information by the Appellate Authority stating that the final outcome of the fate of the meeting dated December 12, 2018, has been discussed in the subsequent resolution of January 10, 2019.

Before CIC, Bhardwaj reiterated her RTI application and Second Appeal and stated that there is a larger public interest in disclosure of information since the decision was taken on 12.12.2018 meeting was subsequently overturned after the change of composition of the collegium and that even if no resolution was passed, the agenda and decision of the meeting should be disclosed.

However, the CIC in its decision, upheld the denial of information by the First Appellate Authority as it came to the following conclusion:

"On perusal of the resolution dated 10.01.2019 it is clear that the agenda for the meeting dated 12.12.2018 has been mentioned therein which answers point no 1 of the instant RTI application. With regard to the remaining points, the Commission concurs with the order of the FAA dated 23.04.2019 and holds that in the absence of any resolution passed in the meeting dated 12.12.2018, no available information as per Section 2 (f) exists on record which can be disclosed to the Appellant. Furthermore, the final outcome of the fate of the meeting dated 12.12.2018 has been discussed in the resolution dated 10.01.2019. Hence, no further intervention of the Commission is required in the instant Second Appeal which is disposed of accordingly."

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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