Monday, January 4, 2010

RTI act doesn't apply to judgments

SC: RTI Act doesn't apply to judgments

NEW DELHI: Can a judge be asked under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as to why and how he came to a particular conclusion in a judgment?

No, says the Supreme Court. The apex court saw the mischief potential of queries under the RTI Act in relation to a judge and his judgments and a Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice B S Chauhan firmly said that a judge speaks through his judgments and he could not be made to answer questions relating to his verdict in a case.

"A judge speaks through his judgments and he is not answerable to anyone as to why he wrote a judgment in a particular manner," the Bench said dismissing an appeal filed by one Khanapuram Gandaiah, who had not even challenged the verdict in his case before an appellate forum.

What he asked using an RTI query was why the judge concerned did not consider parts of his submissions, parts of the voluminous documents while additionally putting questions about other aspects of the judgment against him.

Terming all these grievances as valid grounds for filing an appeal, which Gandaiah did not, the Bench minced no words in criticising the appellant for resorting to the RTI Act rather than seeking remedy before higher courts. Gandaiah had made an appliaction under Section 6 of RTI Act, which provides that any information possessed by a public authority under the Act has to be given to an applicant on such a request made either electronically or in writing. The District Judge had rejected his RTI plea.

The Bench agreed with the rejection of his plea seeking information about the judgment under the RTI
Act and said: "A judge can only speak through his judgments and he cannot be made to go on explaining why he took a particular view in a judgment."

"Moreover, as the judge has given his views in the judgment, he cannot give any other reason for his judgment, RTI Act query or otherwise. No party has a right to ask the judge concerned through RTI about the judgment," the Bench said dismissing Gandaiah's appeal.

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