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'Judiciary should be brought under RTI'
January 22, 2007 15:17 IST
Last Updated: January 22, 2007 15:47 IST
Judiciary should not be given immunity from Right to Information Act and judicial appointments must be opened to public scrutiny to enhance reputation of judiciary in the eyes of the people, according to former Chief Justice of India Justice J S Verma.
Verma, also a former chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, said neither the judiciary nor the legislature were supreme. "It is the country's Constitution, which is supreme."
"To ensure transparency and accountability in public eye, I strongly feel that judiciary should be brought into the ambit of Right to Information Act. When hearing of all the cases is done publicly, decisions are pronounced publicly, the administrative actions of the judiciary, especially judicial appointments should be made open to public scrutiny," Justice Verma told a BBC Hindi programme.
"For fairness of the process, it is fine to maintain confidentiality when the appointments process is on. However, when the process has been finalised and appointments done, the reasons for appointments and rejections should be made public. This would enhance the image of judiciary further in the eyes of common people, who see judiciary as their saviour," the former chief justice said.
Emphasising that he did not favour immunity for Judiciary from the Right to Information Act, Justice Verma said: "To begin with, I would be very happy if all my correspondence, which I had done during the days as chief justice of the two high courts and later the Supreme Court, were made public."
"An individual cannot be disqualified from being appointed a judge if he follows a particular ideology," he said.
Asked about the increasing perception of confrontation between the legislature and the judiciary, he said: "In cash for questions case pertaining to 11 parliamentarians disqualified by Parliament, the question was to determine the parliamentary privileges. Now the Constitution of the country says till the time a law is made to define the parliamentary privileges, the Indian parliament would enjoy the same privileges as that of the House of Commons.
"Now since it was a matter of codification of privileges, it has been laid down in the Constitution that in such matters the final arbiter would be the Supreme Court. Therefore, in my view the court was right in entertaining the matter and since it was decided that the matter was rightly decided by Parliament, it should not be viewed as confrontationist," Justice Verma said.
"If a question of law is involved in any matter brought to the notice of the courts, then the courts are within their rights to intervene in it," he said.
Describing the debate on confrontation as dangerous, he said: "It is not only incorrect but dangerous to say that judiciary, legislature and executive are in a struggle to decide who is supreme. It is very clear that in India, the Constitution is supreme and these three arms are its creatures. The real power vests in people."