The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a plea seeking a copy of decisions taken by its Collegium on December 12, 2018, saying no final decision was taken that day and, therefore, discussions which are part of a consultative process cannot be made public.
“Some discussions might have taken place. But unless and until a final decision is taken after due consultation, and on the basis of such a final decision a final resolution is drawn, whatever discussions had taken place cannot be said to be a final decision of the Collegium. The actual resolution passed by the Collegium only can be said to be a final decision of the Collegium and till then at the most, it can be said to be a tentative decision during the consultation,” the bench of Justices M R Shah and C T Ravikumar said.
Dismissing the plea by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, the bench said “a final decision is taken by the Collegium only after due consultation. During the consultation, if some discussion takes place but no final decision is taken and no resolution is drawn, it cannot be said that any final decision is taken by the Collegium” which, it underlined, is a multi-member body whose decision is embodied in the resolution that may be formally drawn up and signed.
Bhardwaj had cited a media interview by Justice (retired) Madan B Lokur, who was a member of the Collegium at the relevant time, to contend that the December 12, 2018 meeting had finalised recommending elevation of two High Court Chief Justices to the Supreme Court, but it was changed after his retirement.
However, the judgement pointed out that in the Resolution dated January 10, 2019, “it is specifically mentioned that in the earlier meeting held on 12.12.2018 though some decisions were taken but ultimately the consultation was not completed and concluded and, therefore, the matter/agenda items was/were adjourned. Therefore, as no final decision was taken which culminated into a final resolution drawn and signed by all the members of the Collegium, the same was not required to be disclosed in the public domain and that too under the RTI Act. Whatever is discussed shall not be in the public domain”.
The bench said “as per the Resolution dated 03.10.2017 (by which, it was resolved to upload the decision/resolution of the Collegium on the Supreme Court’s website) only the final resolution and the final decision is required to be uploaded on the Supreme Court’s website”.
On the interview of the former judge that was cited by Bhardwaj, the bench said, “So far as the reliance placed upon some of the news item/article published in the media in which views of one of the members of the Collegium is noted, is concerned, we do not want to comment upon the same.”