The central government Thursday moved the Supreme Court seeking the review of its verdict directing amendment of the RTI Act for the appointment of judges, serving or retired, and people with judicial background on the central and state information panels.
The government, in its review petition, contended that the court could not have directed it or parliament to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act making way for the appointment of retired or sitting judges or people with judicial background on the Information panels.
The petition said that the apex court judgment runs contrary to the RTI act.
The Sep 13 judgment had said: “There is an absolute necessity for the legislature to reword or amend the provisions of Section 12(5), 12(6) and 15(5), 15(6) of the Act. We observe and hope that these provisions would be amended at the earliest by the legislature to avoid any ambiguity or impracticability and to make it in consonance with the constitutional mandates.”
Having directed the RTI act’s amendment, the judgment said: “We are of the considered view that the competent authority should prefer a person who is or has been a Judge of the High Court for appointment as Information Commissioners. Chief Information Commissioner at the Centre or State level shall only be a person who is or has been a Chief Justice of the High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court of India.”
The judgment, pronounced by a bench of Justice A.K. Patnaik and Justice Swatanter Kumar, held that the Central and State Information Commissions perform quasi-judicial functions thus they should be headed and manned by retired judges or people with judicial background.
“We are of the considered view that it is an unquestionable proposition of law that the Commission is a ‘judicial tribunal’ performing functions of ‘judicial’ as well as ‘quasi-judicial’ nature and having the trappings of a Court,” they said.
Holding that the Commission was a judicial forum, the court said: “It is an important cog and is part of the court attached system of administration of justice, unlike a ministerial tribunal which is more influenced and controlled and performs functions akin to the machinery of administration.”
The court had said that it would render the adjudicatory process which involves critical legal questions and nuances of law, more adherent to justice and shall enhance the public confidence in the working of the Commission.