Unfettered Right to free information without judicial intimidation and obstruction

published on January 10, 2011

Perhaps Karl Popper(1902-1994), the world famous political philosopher had corrupt  and unscrupulous Judges like the former Chief InJustice of India K. G Balakrishnan in mind when he declared as follows in his landmark book titled ‘Open Society and Its Enemies’ :“What we need and what we want is to moralize politics, and not to politicize morals”. If Karl Popper had been alive today and seen the extraordinary range, depth, and magnitude of the Himalayan venal corruption of InJustice K.G Balakrishnan, then he would have also added the point: “We should not politicize and criminalize the judiciary.”

In a short period less than three and a half years as the Chief Justice of India from January 14, 2007 to 12 May 2010, this rampantly corrupt and roaringly rapacious Sonia-appointee K. G Balakrishnan, a crypto-Christian to boot, succeeded in politicizing and criminalizing the noble edifice of the Higher Judiciary in India.
James Madison (1751-1836), one of the Founding Fathers of the American State said: “Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people, who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power of knowledge. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both”.  The tragedy of the corrupt Indian State and the more corrupt Indian judiciary is that both of them have become helpless, directionless and rudderless farces of debased and debauched moral decay and unabashed corruption today.

The NDA Government enacted The Freedom of Information Act in 2002. It was adopted in January 2003 but never came into force. The recent Right to Information Act (The RTI Act) was approved by the Parliament and signed by the President in June 2005 and came into effect in October 2005. It replaced the Freedom of Information Act, 2002. The main objective of this Act is to provide for freedom to every citizen to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, consistent with public interest, in order to promote openness, transparency and accountability in administration and in relation to matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Under the Act, all Indian citizens have a right to ask for information from Central and State public authorities. The public authority must respond in thirty days. An independent Information Commission has been created at the Central level and all the States are following suit.

During British Raj, The Official Secrets Act was passed in 1923 mainly as a defence mechanism against the rising tide of nationalism initiated by Mahatma Gandhi from 1917. No citizen had any access to official information and every one was distrusted by the British Government. This tradition was not only maintained but enriched by the Congress party after independence till the NDA Government enacted The Freedom of Information Act in 2002. This was a revolutionary step, conferring on every Indian citizen the fundamental right to demand and get information from government, governmental agencies and public authorities.

In this story I will present the sequence of facts relating to a case under The RTI Act in which the former Chief InJustice of India K.G Balakrishnan used the might of his high office to intimidate, browbeat and obstruct the public functionaries under The Right to Information Act (The RTI Act).

A heroic and self-less citizen wholly committed to public welfare, called Subhash Chandra Agrawal filed a petition, two years ago, in the Supreme Court under The RTI Act. He was seeking to know ‘if the judges of the Supreme Court are declaring their assets to the Chief Justice of India’. Instead of responding with a simple ‘‘Yes’’ or ‘‘No’’, the Supreme Court turned down his plea, forcing him to appeal before the Central Information Commission (CIC).

Wajahat Habibullah I.A.S, the Chief Information Commissioner, acted in the highest traditions of a bold, objective, impersonal and fearless Civil Service when he gave full justice to the Petitioner Subhash Chandra Agrawal by Ruling that the office of the Chief Justice of India was also accountable under The RTI Act. At this stage, the arrogantly corrupt former Chief InJustice of India K. G Balakrishnan acted in a wholly personal, brash and dictatorial manner by directing the Registrar of the Supreme Court of India to file an Appeal in the Delhi High Court against the Orders of the Chief Information Commissioner.

The Appeal of the Supreme Court of India against the Orders of the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, came up before the Single Judge of the Delhi High Court, Justice Ravindra Bhatt. JUSTICE RAVINDRA BHATT MADE HISTORY BY REJECTING THE SUPREME COURT’S APPEAL AGAINST THE CIC’S ORDER IN THE JUDGES’ ASSETS CASE IN SEPTEMBER 2009.


Undeterred, unfatigued and unfazed by the absolutely just and judicially majestic Orders of the Single Judge Justice Ravindra Bhatt dismissing the wholly outlandish, illegal, immoral and unconstitutional Appeal Petition of the Supreme Court of India, the Chief InJustice K.G Balakrishnan directed his Registrar to file another Appeal Petition, against the Orders of the Single Judge Justice Ravindra Bhatt, before the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court.

In an unusual display of checks and balances within the judiciary, a Full Bench of the Delhi High Court, comprising Chief Justice A P Shah, Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice S Muralidhar, in January 2010 unanimously rejected the contention of the Supreme Court that the office of the Chief Justice of India was beyond the ambit of the Right to Information Act and that the extension of RTI to the CJI’s office would undermine judicial independence.

Referring to a resolution adopted by Supreme Court judges in 1997, a resolution adopted by a conference of chief justices in 1999 and the UN-sponsored 2001 Bangalore principles of judicial conduct, the Delhi High Court said, ‘‘Well defined and publicly known standards and procedures complement, rather than diminish, the notion of judicial independence.’’ Dismissing the Supreme Court’s appeal for the second time in four months, the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court covered itself with glory vis-a-vis the corpulently corrupt Chief InJustice K.G Balakrishnan when it proclaimed to all the world: ‘‘Higher the judiciary, higher the accountability.’’

The RTI verdict by the Full Bench of The Delhi High Court upheld the path-breaking ruling made in September 2009 by Justice Ravindra Bhatt. This High Court verdict came in the context of the prolonged controversy over whether the declarations of assets made by judges should be put in the public domain. The Full bench of the Delhi High Court disagreed with the plea of the Supreme Court of India that information pertaining to other judges is confidential in nature and so cannot be made public by Chief justice of India. The Full Bench of the Delhi High Court declared: ‘‘The declarations are not furnished to the Chief Justice of India in a private relationship or as a matter of trust but in due discharge of the constitutional obligation to maintain the highest standards of integrity and probity of judicial life and are in the larger public interest.’’

The Delhi High Court categorically refused to give credence to the apex court’s submission that Chief Justice of India’s office is different from the apex court registry. The Delhi High Court gave this Ruling: ‘‘In absence of any indication that the office of the CJI is a separate establishment with its own Public Information Office under the Act, it cannot be canvassed that the office of the CPIO of the Supreme Court is different from the office of the Chief Justice of India.’’

The Full Bench of the Delhi High Court gave a clear verdict to the effect that the office of the Chief Justice of India came within the ambit of the Right To Information Act and stated that judicial independence is not a judge’s personal privilege but a responsibility cast upon him or her. This verdict gave a mocking rejoinder to Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan who has consistently maintained that his office does not fall within the ambit of the transparency law and hence cannot part with information relating to disclosure of judges’ assets.

The Full Bench of the Delhi High Court has also held that The office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority under The RTI Act, and that judges of the Supreme Court should make public their assets as they are not “less accountable than judicial officers of lower courts who are bound by service rules to declare assets.” The Bench dismissed the plea of the Supreme Court (which meant only Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan) which opposed bringing the Chief Justice of India’s office within the purview of the Act on the ground that it would encroach into its judicial independence. The Delhi High Court declared: “Judicial independence is not the personal privilege or prerogative of the individual judge. It is the responsibility imposed on each judge to enable him or her to adjudicate a dispute honestly and impartially on the basis of the law and the evidence.”
Emphasising the paramount public importance of maintenance of the highest standards of judicial behaviour, both on and off the Bench, The Full Bench of the Delhi High Court unanimously observed: “For a judge, to deviate from such standards of honesty and impartiality is to betray the trust reposed to him… A judicial scandal has always been regarded as far more deplorable than a scandal involving either the executive or a member of the legislature. The slightest hint of irregularity or impropriety in the court is a cause for great anxiety and alarm.”

“A legislator or an administrator may be found guilty of corruption without apparently endangering the foundation of the State. But a judge must keep himself absolutely above suspicion to preserve the impartiality and independence of the judiciary and to have the public confidence thereof. A judiciary of undisputed integrity is the bedrock institution essential for ensuring compliance with democracy and the rule of law. Even when all other protections fail, it provides a bulwark to the public against any encroachments of its rights and freedoms under the law.”

Even after the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court had made the above classic and unexceptionable observations and had fully upheld the Orders of the Single Judge Justice Ravindra Bhatt endorsing the correct, impersonal and impartial views of the Chief Information Commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, the wholly tyrannical Chief InJustice of India K. G Balakrishnan sank to abysmal levels of legal probity and propriety by directing the Registrar of the Supreme Court to file an Appeal Petition against the Full Bench Verdict of the Delhi High Court before the Supreme Court itself! In effect, this meant that with half-baked legal knowledge and full fledged legal authority, Chief InJustice K.G Balakrishnan directed the Registrar of the Supreme Court to transfer the Appeal Petition of the Chief InJustice K.G Balakrishnan from his own RIGHT HAND to his own LEFT HAND. This was the highest type of ‘EVEN HANDED JUSTICE’ that this cavalierly corrupt Chief InJustice K.G Balakrishnan was capable of.

For this act of extraordinary and compelling judicial creativity displayed by Chief Justice Balakrishnan  which so completely smashed the track records of all the known Super and supercilious Sonia-slaves, the lawless Oily Moily, the Union Law(less!) Minister paid his tribute to Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan, by expressing his Sonia-Congress concern about the fallout effect that the verdict of the Full Bench of the Delhi High Court will have on judicial independence at higher levels of the Indian judiciary! This was a classic Sonia Congress instance of one political thug speaking up for another ‘political’ fellow-thug – with both thugs, net-working everyday, and reporting with zeal and undivided dedication to the same avaricious and rapacious Italian Don!  

I cannot help mentioning here that this abrasively Lawless Law Minister Veerappa Moily had made an abortive attempt in August 2009 to introduce a Bill exempting judges from making a public disclosure of their assets. He was forced to withdraw the Bill in the face of outrage expressed by Opposition MPs in Rajya Sabha accusing the government of striking a deal with judges in general and Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan in particular. The ever shameless and supine Union Law(less!) Minister failed in his attempt to exempt the Chief Injustice Balakrishnan from the operation of the provisions of The RTI Act.

Finally I will be failing in my public duty as a freelance journalist if I do not pay my tribute to Shri.Subhash Chandra Agrawal and his wife Shrimati Madhu Agrawal, an extraordinarily public-spirited couple in New Delhi. If only they had not sought specific information under The Right to Information Act (The RTI Act) from the PIO of the Supreme Court of India regarding the declaration of assets by the Judges of the Supreme Court, corrupt judges like K.G.Balakrishnan and some of his equally corrupt colleagues would have go on merrily disporting themselves in the pleasure lands of unchecked corruption and nepotism. Both of them have shown how every responsible citizen can display his patriotic public spirit by choosing to function as a valiant warrior under The Right to Information Act (The RTI Act). They have demonstrated that if you know how to use The RTI Act effectively and intelligently, you can convert it into an arsenal of explosives and an armoury of revolutions.
The best tribute I can pay to this wonderful couple is by stating that it is courage, courage, courage of people like them that cleanses a country’s  polity by raising the blood  of public life to lofty heights of CRIMSON SPLENDOUR.

They are exemplary citizens and wonderful public servants, acting with courage and fortitude to uphold the cause of truth. Their courageous commitment to the sacred cause of public welfare and truth, brings to my mind the beautiful observation of Sir. Walter Scott: “Without courage, there can be no truth. And without truth, there is no other virtue.”

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