Thursday, January 21, 2010

Supreme Court Vs People

From its inception Right To Information Act (Commonly known as RTI act) gave sleepless night to politicians, beaurocrats and other civil servants (Please note that even if we pronounce it as civil servants its actually civil bosses). Now RTI start to hunt the Supreme Court judges and giving sleepless night to CJI. In countries like India where many government documents is beyond the power of the common man (In democracy its said that common man runs the system, but in effect system runs the common man to the point of no return!!!) RTI was a blessing for common man and a curse for politicians and civil servants.

It may be the one of most popular laws in India. After the explosion of news papers and television revolution in India news become a rare resource. In a country of 1.2billion people news channels find it very difficult to find a worthy news item!!! They started to chew, rechew and throw it to the public and then take it back, then again chew it, rechew it and again throw it to the public.

They went to the extend of counting the number of women attached to Tiger Woods life in every other day. Its another fact that that there are people who are suffering due to terrorism in J & K, insurgency in North East, Naxalism in the jungles of Central India; committing suicides due to agricultural losses in Maharashtra, UP, Kerala etc; deforestation, killing endangered species etc. But too few are going to the remote Indian villages, anyone heared about any major news from Sikkim, Mizoram, Thripura, Maghalaya etc in the recent days? or there is no news at all?

But RTI changed everything; now majority of the government documents whose existence we know is accessible to Indians (Of course Defence documents any many other categories are not accessible due to security reasons). if the existence of a certain document is not known, then? Other than the usual government documents there may be hundreds of other documents whose existence may not be known to the public.

Now the Act starts to give sleepless nights to CJI. All the things are related to the disclosure of assets of judges, collegiums decisions and communication between Madras HC judge and CJI. But CJI was not in any mood to bow to the demand. But this time he faces the fierce resistance from every corner, if every one who is getting salary from public exchequer have to reveal assets then why not judges? - who are supposed to be the gate keepers of Indian constitution- In a rare act they appealed against CIC decision in Delhi High Court, but Delhi HC upheld CIC's decision.

In the word of CJI "The full court had decided to go in [for] an appeal." Look at the wonderful word 'full court'. Now SC will submit an appeal against HC order in SC itself!!! They will challenge an order against their interest in their own court and they will argue for them and they will declare a verdict. Now you can think what will be the reaction of people to such a verdict.

Already there is another appeal pending in SC, which again filed by SC against CIC's order asking for the disclose the contents of a letter by Madras high court judge R Reghupathy complaining about a union minister to CJI. Here SC stayed the CIC order.

In both cases SC lost its case in public court. If they are not ready to disclose their assets; then how they can make verdicts in others asset disclosure cases? There are many morality laws associated with this cases - First and foremost you can’t be a judge in your case. Anyway it’s better for SC to make an end to the issue. Like this they have to make a framework to control the contempt of court proceedings. Every judge should have the power to tolerate the criticism. Along with this there should be a proper framework for appointing judges to Supreme Court and the rejects persons should have the right to know why they are not considered for the post of Supreme Court judge.

At the same time Information Commissioners have to decide what to reveal and what not to reveal correctly. For example the recent decision by commissioner to reveal the data about tax submissions of an Indian citizen to an applicant is totally unjustifiable.

Why on earth it comes under RTI radar? How the tax documents of a common person come as public interest issue? What it mean? Any person can apply for the tax details of any other persons? It’s a direct encroachment to the privacy of a citizen. These documents are private documents or can say as an agreement between a citizen and government no third party have anything to do with it. It should not come under RTI act.

On the tax evasion cases they can make a former complaint on other ways, or can approch court but RTI is certainly no the way to do this thing. IT documents are private to the person and related departments.

It’s better to correct the mistakes themselves rather than compelled to do so.


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