SC five-judge bench resumed hearing on Thursday on the courts’s own appeals against the judiciary being subject to the RTI regime

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After hearing Attorney General KK Venugopal, appearing for the Supreme Court and advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, the 5-judge bench court reserved the verdict in the matter where an RTI Activist had sought disclosure of information on appointment of judges, thereby bringing collegium under RTI.

For the past decade, the Supreme Court has refused to divulge information under RTI about the collegium’s confidential communications with the government. The collegium recommends judges for the High Courts and the apex court. Opening up the “highly-sensitive” correspondence of the Supreme Court’s collegium and its workings to the Right to Information (RTI) regime would make judges and the government “shy” and “destroy” judicial independence, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal submitted on Wednesday.

Venugopal asserted that were the RTI to be applied to the collegium, its member judges would not be able to sit back and have a free and frank discussion for fear that their confidential views may later come into the public domain.

After 9 years the appeal is now being heard under constitution bench. The bench is suppressed under a question whether is it delirious to judicial independence to bring collegium under RTI.

Justice Gogoi going beyond AG argument asserted that it would destroy the judicial independence of a citizen Besides, the career, family and even continuance in office of a person against whom adverse remarks were made would be ruined,” he said, summing up Mr. Venugopal’s submissions.

A person’s self respect is the most important than his life. Disclosure of highly sensitive information can affect the judicial way of functioning. Acknowledging that the right to know was part of the right to free speech, Mr. Venugopal said the right to free speech was, however, subject to reasonable restrictions.

The bench reserved its verdict on the issue of Thursday.

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