SC dismisses request to disclose details of a December 2018 meeting under RTI

SC dismisses request to disclose details of a December 2018 meeting under RTI

The Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking details of the Supreme Court collegium's meeting on December 12, 2018 under the Right to Information Act on Friday, observing that the discussion cannot be disclosed to the public and that only the Collegium's final decision must be uploaded to the website. According to the division bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar, only the final resolution can be considered a decision, and whatever is discussed is not required to be in the public domain, even under the RTI Act. The petitioner, RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj, relied on interviews given by one of the judges who was present at the December 2018 meeting (Justice Madan Lokur), who stated that the decision to recommend the elevation of two High Court Chief Justices was finalised at the meeting and was changed after his retirement. Based on the reports, the petitioner requested information about the December 2018 collegium meeting.

"Some discussions might have taken place, but unless and until a final decision is taken after due consultation and on the basis of the final decision a resolution is drawn, whatever discussions which have taken place cannot be said to be a final decision of the collegium. The actual resolution passed by the collegium only can be said to be a final decision of the collegium and till then, at the most, it can be said to be a tentative decision during the consultation. It is to be noted that a final decision is taken by the collegium only after due consultation. During the consultation if some discussion takes place, but no final decision is taken and no resolution is drawn, it cannot be said that any final decision is taken by the collegium", Justice MR Shah pronounced the order.

"The collegium is a multi-member body whose decision embodying the resolution that will be formally drawn up and signed. When in the subsequent resolution dated 10.01.2019 it is specifically mentioned that in the earlier meeting held on 12.12.2018, though some decisions were taken, but ultimately the consultations were not complete and concluded and therefore the agenda items were adjourned. Therefore, as such no final decision was taken which has culminated into a final resolution drawn and signed by all the members of the collegium. The same was not required to be disclosed to the public domain that too under the RTI Act. Whatever is discussed shall not be in the public domain. As per the resolution dated 03.10.2017, only the the final resolution and the decision is required to be uploaded in the Supreme Court website".

The court was hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by RTI activist Anjali Bharadwaj, who was challenging a Delhi High Court decision that denied her request for information under the Right to Information Act regarding decisions made by the Collegium in a meeting on December 12, 2018. On that day, the then-Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, and four of the Supreme Court's most senior judges—Justices Madan B Lokur, AK Sikri, SA Bobde, and NV Ramana—made decisions regarding the appointment of judges. The details of the meeting were not posted on the Court's website. Interestingly, those decisions were later reversed.


Case Title: Anjali Bhardwaj vs CPIO, SC (RTI Cell)

Citation: SLP (C) No. 21019/2022

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