Order on info panels not a bid to rehabilitate judges: SC

SC

THE Supreme Court said on Thursday that its September 13 ruling that "only" serving and retired judges of the apex court and chief justices of High Courts can head the Central and State Information Commissions was not an attempt to "rehabilitate" judges.

"The idea is not to rehabilitate any judge of the High Court or Supreme Court or any chief justice but only to ensure an independent person is appointed. The top man must be an independent person. We are not concerned with rehabilitating any judge, although that is how some think," said a Bench of Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar.

Admitting a review petition by the Centre, the Bench said persons with judicial minds must be a part of these panels since questions pertaining to legal rights have to be decided.

The Bench further observed that only those who are in the "good books" of the government are appointed as chief information commissioners in the Centre as well as states.

"You ask for certain types of information against the government and then see their orders... If right to information has to be really given and is to be made effective, it must be headed by a person who has independent thinking... If he is going to consider who has appointed him and how he was appointed then it will not be proper," it said.

When Additional Solicitor General A S Chandhiok said this was the situation with every such body, the Bench shot back: "You make one kind of a law and then say this should not happen. Why don't you make a law that nobody who is a judge or a bureaucrat shall be appointed?"

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