Disclosure Of Information On Memorandum Of Procedure Confidential And Not In Public Interest: Centre
The Centre has reportedly denied information on the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) to appoint Judges, stating that the information sought is "confidential and may not be shared with in public interest at present".
The response came on an RTI Application filed by Mr. Paras Nath Singh, who had sought:
- The correspondence made between the Government and the Supreme Court Collegium/Chief Justice of India on the issue of Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).
- The date on which last correspondence was made with the Supreme Court of India regarding MoP as on date.
- Certified copy of the draft MoP sent to the Government by the Supreme Court Collegium in March 2017.
- Complete details of file noting(s) generated in Department of Justice while dealing with the issue of MoP, etc.
Vide his reply dated 15 February, the CPIO refused the information, merely stating that it cannot be furnished as the revised MoP was still being finalized.
Against this response, Mr. Singh filed an Appeal before the FAA cum Deputy Secretary, asserting that information under the RTI Act can only be denied under Sections 8 and 9 of the Right to Information Act.
The FAA, however, upheld the CPIO's decision, stating, "The information furnished by CPIO in response to your RTI application is in order, as the draft Memorandum of Procedure is not yet finalized. The information sought by you is confidential and may not be shared with you in public interest at present."
Responding to the refusal, Mr. Singh alleged violation of his Fundamental Right to Information and wrote, "...the Government hiding behind “public interest” to deny crucial information that is directly connected to the independence of the judiciary and its transparency, a matter flagged by the four brother justices of the Supreme Court in such an extraordinary step, is in fact detrimental to the actual public interest. The Indian public has a right to know what is the status of the MoP to appoint judges in the higher courts, so that democracy can be nursed back to health."This post is based on an article published in Lawyers Collective.