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Activists hail Supreme Court decision

Activists hail Supreme Court decision
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Transparency activists on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision on bringing the office of the Chief Justice of India under the ambit of the RTI Act, saying the apex court has reiterated the established position in law in the matter.

New Delhi : Transparency activists on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision on bringing the office of the Chief Justice of India under the ambit of the RTI Act, saying the apex court has reiterated the established position in law in the matter.

"I welcome the decision of the constitution bench to reiterate the established position in law that the CJI is a public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act," said Venkatesh Nayak, head of access to information programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an NGO.

Nayak said surveillance is what the government often does under executive instructions and that is not the purpose of the RTI Act. "People whose cases relating to their life, liberty, property and rights are decided by the high courts and the Supreme Court.

People have the right to know not only the criteria but all materials that formed the basis of making the decision regarding appointments of judges in accordance with the provisions of the RTI Act," he said.

Nayak said where exemptions are available under the RTI Act, they will be legitimately invoked by public authorities and all other information should be in the public domain. He said the appointment of judges, who are public functionary, is a public act. "People have the right to know everything that is done in a public way by a government, in a democratic country, which must be accountable and responsible,"Nayak said.

Former information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi also hailed the top court's decision. "It is a very good decision of the SC. I had expected the same decision to come as logically there is nothing else. It is unfortunate that it has taken 10 years. The CIC has upheld this. The Delhi HC had also upheld this.

Now, the SC has upheld this. All public servants that are paid by the government is a public service, no matter what the position is? You need to be accountable for your work. I congratulate the Chief Justice and the court for having given such a decision," he said.

RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal hailed the top court's verdict. "I welcome the Supreme Court's verdict. It is a victory of the RTI Act," he said. Another activist Ajay Dubey said the apex court's decision was "historic".

"It is a historic decision and I welcome it. All decisions made by a public authority must be in public domain and under the RTI Act," he said. Dubey, however, expressed shock over the top court's remark that RTI Act cannot be used as a tool of surveillance.

With the support of well-known lawyer and social activist Prashant Bhushan, Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who also holds the Guinness World Records for having written the most published letters to newspaper editors, had approached the Delhi High Court to bring Chief Justice of India (CJI) under the ambit of transparency law RTI.

Delhi-based RTI activist Agrawal has used RTI laws as a tool to fight corruption. After getting support of advocate Bhushan, who is recognised for filing public suits, Agrawal has moved Central Information Commission (CIC) seeking transparency in the judiciary.

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