Thursday, July 05, 2018

Appointment of judges: Kerala HC refuses to divulge details of list

Mathrubhumi: Kochi: Thursday, July 05, 2018.
The Kerala High Court has turned its face towards transparency.  The High Court said that the decision taken by the HC collegium cannot be disclosed as per the Right To Information Act.  The stand of the Kerala High Court comes at a time when the Supreme Court has ordered the minutes of the collegium meet to be put up on the website.
Mathrubumi News had sought the names and details of those who were recommended by the Kerala HC collegium to the SC for appointment of judges. But the court replied that the details cannot be disclosed. There were allegations that the list send by the court collegium to the apex court has names of unqualified persons and those having relations with the sitting judges. It was in this context that Mathrubhumi News approached the HC under the RTI Act.
The HC made it clear that the chief justice is a `competent authority’ and will not come under the ambit of the RTI Act.  The details sought for are most confidential and hence cannot be furnished. The offices of high constitutional authorities like governor or speaker or chief justice come under the competent authority category. But when the speaker or the governor are ready to disclose details, why is the court showing reluctance.
Former Information Commissioner Gunavardhan has said that the application seeking details may be rejected under the RTI Act if it affects the integrity of the country or if it calls for information on secrecy. Even RTI activist D B Binu wanted to know why is the court not ready to disclose details even when the SC is giving out information.
Justice Kemal Pasha told Mathrubhumi News that there are drawbacks in the appointment of judges to the High Court and that transparency must be ensured in the appointments. He added that the citizens have a right to know the list of names sent to the apex court.