Disclosure of information related to setting of Supreme Court benches outside Delhi may “arouse regional feelings” and create “needless political controversy” resulting in law and order problem, the CIC has held allowing the apex court to withhold it.
“We find force in the arguments of the respondent that the information sought, if disclosed at this stage, could lead to needless controversy of a political nature, which should best be avoided taking into account the need for efficient functioning of the Supreme Court,” the Full Bench said.
Appellant Rajiv Rufus from Madurai has sought information inter alia about the copies of minutes of the meeting of the Full Court of the Supreme Court, the file notings and letters sent by the Chief Justice of India to the Parliamentary Standing Committee relating to the setting up of benches of the Supreme Court outside Delhi.
Supreme Court had rejected to disclose the information, saying opinions in the Full Court meeting are expressed confidentially by the judges in the course of discussions and divulging these would make the system unworkable in practice.
Intervening in the matter, another activist R K Jain said during the hearing that comments or views expressed at the full court meetings are not personal and are part of the decision making process in a matter.
“The question is about openness of the views expressed and mere confidentiality is not a ground to claim exemption… right to justice is a fundamental right and since the Supreme Court is functioning only from Delhi, everybody has to come to Delhi to file or defend the case before it,” Jain submitted before the Commission.
He said that in the interest of democracy and transparency, the minutes of the various committees of the Supreme Court cannot be withheld.