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Judges are not above the RTI Act

In the editorial “Supreme folly” (Jan 19), you have rightly commented that the apex court of the country has not crowned itself with glory by challenging the Central Information Commission’s order regarding the declaration of assets in a lower court.

In fact, it is in the interest of the judiciary and it should have accepted the decision in its true spirit, rather than treating it as an encroachment over rights.



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The argument that declaration of assets to the Chief Justice is based on conventions, hence not mandatory, and that the Chief Justice of India is not a public authority under the Right to Information Act is not convincing. Shockingly, this development has come at time when the Chief Justice of India has taken several laudable steps for cleansing the judiciary.

Asking questions regarding assets and questioning merits and demerits of judicial decisions are two different things. When those contesting elections declare their assets, judges should not seek exemption from this provision as it is necessary for maintaining probity and transparency in public life. The judges should not treat themselves above the Right to Information Act.

PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL, Rohtak

II

The judiciary is considered next to God. Its conduct should not only be an example for others to emulate but also transparent and clear. Why should anyone whose conduct is unquestionable vacillate in declaring his or her assets?

It is strange that when legislators refused to accept the directive of the Election Commission to declare their assets at the time of filing of the nominations, the apex court directed them to do so. Now they themselves are shying to do so. To uphold the image of the judiciary, the Supreme Court should gracefully accept the RTI Act.

MAJ NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd), SAS Nagar

III

The RTI Act was introduced in India to make the government processes transparent, so that the public could know of the discrepancies. The statement made by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah regarding the inclusion of the Chief Justice of India under the RTI Act was a step in the right direction.

Some time back, a statement was made by a former Chief Justice of India that 80 per cent of our judiciary is above board. By including the CJI under the RTI Act we are moving towards 100 per cent honest judiciary.

VISHAL JASWAL, Mianpur (Ropar)

IV

A judge is not known by his wealth or the lack of it, but by the civility and the impartiality with which he conducts himself in the court. Judges do not create controversies and avoid personal litigation. The exclusiveness of their job adds prestige to their status.

Advocates in the country are stunned that the Supreme Court has filed an appeal in the High Court of Delhi, challenging the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which ordered that judges of the apex court should make their assets public. Perhaps, the Supreme Court believes that its function is to interpret laws but is not bound by it.

A judge should be an open book. Everything worth knowing about a judge should be apparent. It will enhance the image of the judiciary. The CJI argues that judges disclose the assets to him in confidence; hence, it cannot be made public. It is a strange logic, which is hard to understand.

By refusing to disclose assets, a suspicion has arisen in the minds of the people that there must be something fishy which the CJI does not want to disclose. This has clouded the clean image of the judiciary.

G S Grewal, senior advocate, Chandigarh

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Save daughters

The news report “Don’t marry daughters abroad, say NRIs” (Jan 14) by
Mahesh Sharma was unsettling. It was very disheartening and frightening to
know that a girl married to a Canadian citizen was brutally murdered by her
father-in-law in Toronto. Even more shocking was the fact that her parents
were not informed about her death.

Recently the Law Commission of India has taken a wise step to recommend the enactment of uniform legislation on the compulsory registration of marriages. This can protect helpless and innocent women. The Government of India has enacted the Domestic Violence Act to protect women against domestic violence. Yet, no concrete steps have ever been taken by the Indian Government to protect the rights of women married abroad.

NRIs come to India, get married to Indian girls, take them abroad, torture them, throw them out of their houses and obtain divorces from foreign courts. Provisions should be made that separation and divorce given by the foreign courts can be challenged in the Indian courts. The government should take such cases seriously and property of the persons involved should be confiscated and handed over to the girls in the case of a separation or a divorce.

The girls fail to pursue their legal options in foreign lands for want of moral and economic support. Protecting these suffering girls is as important as creating awareness about female foeticide. The Government of India and the media should stop hyping the NRI status. It is high time the government considered Amandeep Kaur’s case as a wake-up call.

Dr KAMALJEET KAUR SEKHON, Patiala

Parliament’s decision

I want to draw attention to the news report “Prez okays big salary hike for self” (Jan 4). The process of a pay hike for the Head of State is a constitutional process. The proposal for the pay increase was moved by the government in Parliament as a Bill and once both Houses passed it, it was sent to the President for her assent.

A Bill passed by Parliament has to get the assent of the President of India to become an Act. The increase in the pay of the President of India was neither a personal decision of Mrs Pratibha Devisingh Patil nor did she initiate it. The pay hike is a decision taken for the office of the President from time to time.

ARCHANA DATTA, Officer on Special Duty (Public Relations), President’s Secretariat, Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi

 





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