CIC’s Step Towards Judicial Accountability

On Wednesday the Central Information Commission directed the Ministry of Law and Justice to disclose the steps taken in addressing the complaint against ex CJI Altamas Kabir. Mr. Subhash Agarwal had made a request for disclosure of the steps taken in addressing the complaint made by Justice Krishna Iyer against ex CJI Altamas Kabir in respect to the alleged leak of a judgement dated 18 July 2013, in the matter of Christian Medical College, Vellore v. Union of India.

The CPIO merely stated that there was no record of complaints made against HC and SC Judges with the Central Government. The CPIO had further observed that disclosing names of Chief Justices against whom complaints had been levied would be highly improper. This view was upheld by the First Appellate Officer, but Information Commissioner Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu directed the Supreme Court Registry, the Department of Justice and the Law Ministry to disclose action taken on the complaint.

The CIC further stated that there was no reason to withhold the status of status of complaints made, he pointed out that there was no need for secrecy in such matters as the same created doubt in the public mind.

The CIC then pointed out that the Government had taken no steps to enable the Constitutional provision of appointment of eminent Jurists to HCs and the SC and lastly he stated that the Ministry of Law and Justice needed to disclose the status of the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill as without an established system for handling of complaints there could not be any scope improving governance in judiciary.

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