NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will on Wednesday pronounce its verdict on whether the Chief Justice of India's office is covered under the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI).
A five-judge Constitution bench presided by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi reserved the judgement in April this year while hearing a plea filed by the Supreme Court Secretary General against the January 2010 judgment of the Delhi High Court that declared the CJI's office a public authority within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.
In November 2007, RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal filed an RTI in the Supreme Court seeking information on judges' assets but the information was denied. Aggarwal then approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which asked the apex court to disclose information on the ground that the Chief Justice of India's office comes within the ambit of the Act.
In January 2009, the top court had moved the Delhi High Court against the CIC order contending that declaration of assets by its judges to the Chief Justice of India is personal information which cannot be revealed under the RTI Act and too much transparency can affect the independence of the judiciary.
A single-judge bench of the high court on September 2, 2009, had upheld the CIC order and said the Chief Justice of India's office comes within the ambit of RTI Act and judges' assets be made public under the law.
Meanwhile, in another full court meeting, the top court passed a resolution that assets of judges be declared voluntarily in public by publishing them on the official website.
The top court thereafter also challenged the single judge's order before a division bench and the high court decided to constitute a special three-judge bench to decide the issue.
The three-judge bench in November 2009 had observed that the resolution passed by the Supreme Court judges in 1997 for declaring their assets to the Chief Justice of India was binding on them and in January 2010 it held that the office of the CJI comes within the ambit of the RTI Act.
The apex court then filed the appeal against the three-judge bench of the high court in the top court which has been pending in the Supreme Court since 2010. The top court decided to send the matter to the five-judge Constitution bench.