UNFETTERED RIGHT TO FREE INFORMATION WITHOUT JUDICIAL INTIMIDATION AND OBSTRUCTION
V. SUNDARAM I.A.S
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.
Justice Ravindra Bhatt
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.
At that time, I did not understand as to why the CJI K.G Balakrishnan was so obdurately adamant in his intractable mindless opposition to bringing the Office of the CJI under The RTI Act. BUT NOW IT HAS BECOME CRYSTAL CLEAR TO THE NATION AND THE PUBLIC AT LARGE THAT THIS SUPREMELY CORRUPT INDIVIDUAL WAS KEEN ON PROTECTING HIMSELF AND HIS ILL-GOTTEN PERSONAL GAINS, WHICH HE HAD AMASSED WITH ILL-CONCEALED IMPUNITY MISUSING AND ABUSING THE MIGHT OF HIS HIGH OFFICE, FROM ALL PUBLIC SCRUTINY UNDER THE RTI ACT.
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.’’