Judges as information commissioners

The Supreme Court judgment on the composition of information commissions is a new milestone in judicial overreach. The judges have said information commissions are judicial tribunals, only retired or serving justices of Supreme Court or chief justices of High Courts can head information commissions. The benches of information commissions should have two members, one of them a judicial member. Lawyers with 20 years experience are also eligible as judicial members. The bench comprising Justices A. K. Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar directed the central government to amend the RTI Act. Some busybody had challenged the qualifications in RTI Act. The judges qualified themselves.

It is not for judiciary to direct legislature to pass or amend a law. Judiciary is not above executive and legislature. This judgment gives employment to judges after retirement. If serving judges are appointed court cases will be delayed. Some days back CJI Sarosh H. Kapadia had warned against judicial overreach. This judgment ignores that warning.

Retired judges are appointed as chairpersons of human rights commissions, Press Council, inquiry commissions and so on. This is another opportunity for them.

Lokesh Batra, an RTI activist, said “It appears that the Supreme Court has created over 50% reservations for retired judges in information commissions. I hope we are not heading for hearing after hearing and reserved verdicts like in the courts, thus prolonging decisions for years.”

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