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Delhi HC Dismisses Appeal Seeking Details of 2018 SC Collegium Meeting

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Delhi High Court Law Insider

Priya Gour

Published on: 27 July 2022 at 18:54 IST

A Delhi High Court dismissed an appeal against the orders of a Single Judge Bench that quashed the disclosure of information regarding the SC Collegium meeting held on December 12, 2018.

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was of the view that there is no interference required in the judgement given by the single judge.

The Appellant counsel Prashant Bhushan submitted that matter in front of us encourages transparency in information disclosure.

It was also submitted that the decisions involving the apex court’s judicial appointment are required to be submitted in writing and uploaded on the website. It was submitted that the Section 8 of the RTI Act that required public authorites to voluntarily disclose information involving public interest as same has not been incorporated in the resolution sent to the Government.

Further, the counsel argued that the every information which exists with a public authority has to be disclosed to citizens unless the same is exempted under Section 8 of the RTI Act.

However , the Court dismissed the appeal owing to the fact that that no agenda was drawn by the members of the collegium constituted on December 12 ,2018. And the relied excerpts of the autobiography of former CJI Gogoi and news article fails to demonstrate as to whether the decisions allegedly taken were merely verbal or had been crystallised into a written resolution that could come under the ambit of ‘information’ under Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act.

The Court also observed that the information should be uploaded on the official website regarding initial elevation to the HC Bench, confirmation as permanent Judge(s) in the High Court, elevation to the post of Chief Justice of the High Court, transfer of High Court Chief Justices or Judges and elevation to the Supreme Court. However, there is no such requirement to upload reasons on the website for all other Collegium Resolutions.

The original case involved an RTI application filed by Bhardwaj regarding information on the meeting of the Collegium that took place on December 12, 2018 which involved former Chief Justice of India Justice Gogoi and four senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court viz. Mr. Justice Madan B. Lokur, A.K Sikri, S.A Bobde .

However decisions taken in the meeting were not not duly updated on the Courts website which prompted to lack of transparency in judicial appointments.

The informed seeked by the RTI was denied quoting 8(1) (b), (e), and (J) of the RTI Act.
This is followed by the denial being upheld by the first appellate authority and thereafter Chief Information Commissioner. The CIC upheld the denial of information as decided by the appellate authority, hence the plea was filed before the apex court.

The Single Judge dismissed the petition and refused to entertain the media reports and statements of former SC Judge Madan B Lokur regarding the SC collegium meeting held on December 12, 2018 observing that they lack “evidentiary value”.

The bench drawed conclusion that the Courts would be “clearly transgressing their well settled limitations” if cognizance were to be taken of such “unsubstantiated and unverified reports.”

The Court dismissed the plea quoting that there was no ground to doubt the disclosure since the meeting held did not pass any resolution.