For transparency, you can’t destroy an institution: CJI
New Delhi: Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Thursday said that while nobody wants an opaque system, no institution can be allowed to be destroyed in the name of transparency.
He was responding to a plea to make the selection of judges a transparent affair.
“We find good people who choose to become judges. They fear negative things about them, right or wrong, will come out into public domain,” said the Chief Justice in response to advocate Prashant Bhushan’s arguments regarding transparency in the selection process.
“Finally, not only do they not become judges, but their reputation is lost. It destroys reputations, family, careers…
“For transparency you cannot destroy an institution,” said the CJI.
Bhushan commenced the arguments on behalf of RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agarwal.
On Wednesday, the Attorney General argued for the Supreme Court against the disclosure of information pertaining to judges’ appointment.
Bhushan contended that judges do not inhabit in a different universe, and even minutes of the Cabinet meetings were covered under the transparency law.
“But for judges there has to be class exemption. Therefore, selection of judges has to be kept out of public gaze… This is not being transparent,” he said.
The CJI cited the example of a Madras district judge who was denied elevation due to age reasons. But since he was termed unfit, he lost even an extension as district judge.
Bhushan argued that any judge could even have animosity, and that could factor in the selection process.
He said that adverse Intelligence Bureau reports had played a vital role in the selection process of the judges and this information should be brought under public domain.
Bhushan said that in his submission, public interest would triumph if there was public disclosure regarding the reasons why a judge was selected or not.
These could even include factors like homosexuality or a judge being a Muslim or Christian, he said.