New Delhi [India], July 22 (ANI): The Division Bench of Delhi High court on Friday reserved the order on an appeal challenging the Central Information Commission (CIC) order denying information regarding the agenda of the Supreme Court collegium meeting held on December 12, 2018.
Earlier on March 30, 2022, the single bench of Delhi High Court had dismissed the plea moved by RTI Activist Anjali Bhardwaj challenging an order dated December 16, 2021, passed by the Central Information Commission in Second Appeal, in which it had dismissed the petitioner's appeal.
The bench of Justice Satish Chander Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Friday said, while keeping the order reserved on the appeal said, we will pass the appropriate order on it.
Appearing for Appellant, Advocate Prashant Bhushan submitted before the Division Bench that decision of the collegium where the elevation of judges to the SC was made was never made public.
The Single bench of Justice Yashwant Varma while passing the judgement on March 30, 2022, said that "the court finds no ground to doubt the disclosure made that no resolution was drawn. Atleast no cogent material has been placed on the record which may convince the Court to take a contrary view".
It is manifest that, in the absence of any formal resolution coming to be adopted and signed by the members of the collegium on December 12, 2018, the respondent has rightly taken the position that there was the absence of material that was liable to be disclosed. The submission addressed in the backdrop of certain newspaper reports is noticed only to be rejected since it is well settled that such reports are of no evidentiary value and courts would be clearly transgressing their well-settled limitations if cognizance were to be taken of such unsubstantiated and unverified reports.
The appeal seeks direction to authorities to disclose the available information sought in the RTI application on February 26, 2019.
It also stated that on January 23, 2019, former Justice Madan B Lokur, who was one of the members of the collegium meeting of December 12, 2018, and retired on December 30 that year, in an interview had expressed his disappointment that December 12, 2018 collegium meeting resolution was not uploaded in the Supreme Court website. In the petition, Justice Lokur was quoted having said, "once we take certain decisions, they have to be uploaded".
"In such circumstances, in the interest of transparency in the appointment in the judiciary, on February 26, 2019, the petitioner through an RTI application to the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Supreme Court sought a copy of the agenda, decisions and resolution of the collegium meeting held on December 12, 2018," stated the plea. The plea stated that the CPIO of the Supreme Court refused to provide the information. It was challenged before the First Appellate Authority (FAA).
"While disposing of the appeal, the FAA had also dismissed it holding that in view of the subsequent collegium resolution of January 10, 2019, it was clear that though certain decisions were taken in the meeting of December 12, 2018, the required consultation could not be completed therefore no resolution was formally passed. Therefore the information sought could not be supplied to the petitioner," the plea said.
The petition stated that in the second appeal, the CIC dismissing it had relied on the resolution of 10 January 2019. It was also held that the copy of the decision and the resolution of 12 December 2018 did not exist on record and therefore could not be supplied to the petitioner. (ANI)