Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Citizens have the right to know how judges are appointed: CIC

The Supreme Court’s denial of an RTI request for details of correspondence between the law minister and the Chief Justice of India about the procedure for appointment of judges has led the Central Information Commission (CIC) to ask whether citizens have no right to know how their judges get their jobs.
“It cannot be anybody’s case that the change in the procedure of judges should happen completely outside the notice or the knowledge of the citizens of India and that (they) should not be given an opportunity to articulate their views. The objective of the RTI Act is precisely to help create an informed citizenry (which) can hold the state and its instrumentalities to account,” Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra wrote in his order.
“...The procedure of appointment of judges or any proposal for modifying that procedure should necessarily be available in the public domain so that the citizens know what is transpiring among the major stakeholders, in this case, the Government of India and the CJI...”
The order came on an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Agarwal to access written communications between the CJI’s office and then union law minister Veerappa Moily on the proposal to modify existing procedure with an aim to appoint judges who meet high standards of competence and integrity.
This is the second time that the CIC has confronted the SC about judges’ appointments. It had earlier ordered that the process of appointment should not be a closed-door affair of the collegium — an order that saw the SC appeal to itself and successfully get a stay on the CIC’s decision. The matter was then referred to a constitution bench.

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