HC Seeks Centre’s Stand on Pleas on Disclosure of Info on Judges Appointment Under RTI Act

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought the Centre’s stand on petitions seeking disclosure of certain information pertaining to the appointment of judges to two high courts under the Right to Information Act.

Justice Prathiba M Singh issued notice on a petition by a man named Vinod Surana challenging the order of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) refusing to order supply of information related to the proposed elevation of his father as a judge of the Madras High Court in 1990-1992.

The judge also granted time to the central government counsel to obtain fresh instructions on two petitions from the years 2009 and 2011 on disclosure of information on appointment of judges to the Gauhati High Court, including the recommendations made by the Supreme Court Collegium at the relevant time.

In this case, the Centre challenged the CIC order directing supply of information pertaining to the recommendations of the Collegium and the RTI applicant, Dinesh Kumar Mishra, assailed the refusal to supply opinion given by two judges of the top court at the relevant time who were once the Chief Justice and acting Chief Justice respectively of the Gauhati High Court.

While the court noted that the Supreme Court Collegium decisions are now placed in public domain and the apex court has also passed a decision on the issue of applicability of RTI Act in similar cases, the counsel for RTI applicant said the present case relates to the period before the decision was made.

“Both the petitions (of 2009 and 2011) are ripe for hearing. However the court notes that there have been subsequent developments and collegium resolutions are now placed in public domain. List for hearing on April 12,” the court ordered.

Petitioner Surana submitted that the information pertaining to his father’s proposed elevation was not provided to him for being “third party information” in spite of a covering letter by his father endorsing the disclosure.

In the RTI application, he prayed for information pertaining to the unsuccessful recommendations for the elevation of his father P S Surana, including documents recording the reasons for not proceeding with the recommendations.

The court directed that the matter be listed for hearing on April 12 when other petitions raising similar issues are listed for consideration.

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