March 22, 2014 07:36 PM

Whereas RTI Act has been introduced to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. Hon’ble Supreme Court has also held in M/s. Kranti Associates Pvt. Ltd. Versus Sh. Masood Ahmed Khan, “It cannot be doubted that transparency is the sine qua non of restraint on abuse of judicial powers. Transparency in decision making not only makes the judges and decision makers less prone to errors but also makes them subject to broader scrutiny.” RTI Act also provides for exemption from disclosure u/ss 7, 9 and 11 of the Act to protect confidentiality and privacy of sensitive information. No information should be withheld except under the said provisions. Unfortunately, the Constitutional Courts (except Madras High Court) has framed Rules to withhold judicial Records and deny information pertaining to judicial record, which is their staple activity, under RTI Act.   One can’t turn his blind eyes to the reality.  The Judicial records of Police and Judiciary are available unauthorizedly by paying hefty tips to the ministerial staff. The Joint Conference of Registrar Generals of High Courts and Law Secretaries of the States held on 23rd December, 2006 recommended that- ‘….The dates in the cases should invariably be given only by the Presiding Officer and the practices and procedures should be streamlined so as to minimize the contact of the litigants with the members of the staff.’  In view of the above the non-disclosure of judicial records under RTI   tends to promote corruption in judiciary rather than to fetch some good name to judiciary. On the other hand, if Madras high Court can’t feel shy to such exposure why the others should feel so or the courts have something (wrong) which can’t be exposed and made public. Therefore the judicial records, subject to just exceptions, should also be made available under RTI to promote transparency, and curb the mushrooming corruption among ministerial staff of judiciary.

-Mani Ram Sharma

Chairman, Indian National Bar Association, Churu- Chapter

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