Cabinet note about the decision to establish a National Judicial Appointments Commission, directed to be disclosed

Central Information Commission (CIC): CIC has held that as soon as the final decision was taken with regard to the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, the matter was complete or over and the noting regarding the Cabinet decision should have been disclosed. The order of CIC was in response to an appeal filed by a person who had sought information on National Judicial Appointments Commissions Bill. Earlier, Law Ministry refused to disclose the Cabinet note about the decision to establish a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to the applicant on the ground that information sought was exempted u/S 8 (1)(i) of RTI act. The applicant had submitted before Commission that the decision of the PIO and the FAA have completely ignored the first proviso to Sec 8 (1)(i) of the RTI Act i.e the information regarding the cabinet decision cannot be withheld after the decision has been taken. He pleaded that there was no justification in withholding the requisite information in respect of the Cabinet decision regarding the appointment of Judicial Appointments Commissions bill cleared by the Cabinet. He further explained that the words “and the matter is complete, or over” in the aforesaid proviso relate to the cabinet decision and cannot be stretched to relate to subsequent action on the basis of the cabinet decision. It was further added that pendency of the Bill in Parliament, therefore, cannot be used as a ground to refuse to make public the information about cabinet decision and for any meaningful public debate such disclosure of information about the Bill is highly essential in the interest of transparency. After hearing the parties, Commission noted that with the passage of National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 in Loksabha and Rajya Sabha, the protection afforded by Sec 8 (1)(i) does not apply and directed the concerned authority to provide the notings regarding the Cabinet decision to the applicant. (SN Shukla v. Department of Justice, 2015 SCC OnLine CIC 2, decided on January 7, 2015)

 

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