Apex court dismisses RTI plea on judgment norms

Abraham Thomas | New Delhi

The judiciary does not seem to have taken kindly to becoming a target of the Right to Information Act. While first it was the information about assets that was kept under wraps, on Monday the Supreme Court stopped yet another attempt under the Act to know the considerations on which a judge acted while passing an order.

Dismissing a petition filed by one Khanapuram Gandaiah, the Bench of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice BS Chauhan held that RTI could not be the solution for affected parties to know whether the judge duly considered the documents presented by them during the hearing of a case.

Gandaiah had approached a district court under Section 6 of the RTI Act to know the ground for rejection of his case.

According to him the judge had refused to consider the documents supplied by him and this made him file an application before the District Judge to consider supply of the information under RTI Act.

Trashing the prayer of the petitioner, the Apex Court said, "A judge speaks through his judgments. He cannot be made answerable to anyone on why he wrote a judgment in a particular manner."

The Court found the practice adopted by the petitioner unjustified as it felt he refused to avail the remedy under law by filing an appeal before a higher forum. Noting this, the Bench observed, "When a judge gives a judgment he gives his views. No party has a right to ask the judge concerned through RTI on his judgment." The Court found the conduct of Gandaiah quite strange in pursuing remedy against an adverse order under RTI.

Gandaiah claimed that the district court refused to consider the voluminous records submitted by him that included his own submissions too. Even the High Court had turned down the request of the petitioner to apply RTI to the facts of the case.

But the Apex Court was quick to spot the inherent dangers hidden behind such plea. If such a prayer was to be allowed, the case had the potential to open a floodgate of requests under RTI to ascertain the grounds of dismissal of a case or petition. Further, the judge would come under tremendous pressure for each of his orders, opening a parallel enquiry process into the decision rendered.

Already, the Supreme Court is facing an uphill task to ward off a Central Information Commission (CIC) order requiring it to supply details regarding declaration of assets by judges to the Chief Justice of India. After the Delhi High Court gave a damning indictment about the Supreme Court's reservation in parting with the said information, an appeal filed by the Central Public Information Officer against the said decision is pending consideration before the Apex Court.