Can't reveal details of judges' assets under RTI, SC tells CIC

Source: http://www.hindu.com

New Delhi (PTI): The question whether assets of judges come under the purview RTI Act continues to hang fire as Supreme Court on wednesday claimed before the CIC that declaration of assets by the Judges before Chief Justice was "voluntary" as per the resolution adopted by Full Bench of Supreme Court in 1997 and cannot be accessed by public under the Act.

Additional Solicitor General Amrendra Saran, representing the apex court, argued before full bench of Central Information Commission that declaration of assets as adapted by the Full Court resolution was an "in-house" voluntary agreement between the judges.

He maintained that revealing any details about it would amount to "breach of confidentiality" as declarations were made to the Chief Justice in his personal capacity.

The CIC, however, resereved its decision on the issue. But during the hearing the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah asked Saran whether declarations are held by the office of Chief Justice or not? He also asked whether a CJI passes this information to his successor or not.

Information Commissioner M M Ansari also wanted to know how can a Full Court meeting attended by all 22 judges be termed as voluntary. "Are you saying it is not an official document of the Supreme Court?" asked Ansari.

Saran said that he was unaware about the practices being followed by the CJI in keeping and forwarding the applications in this regard.

Senior Lawyer Prashant Bhushan representing Agrawal argued that mere stamping of a document as confidential cannot make it inaccessible as it does not come under the exemption clauses under the RTI Act. He asserted that the resolution was an official document which was given under RTI to the applicant.