The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a plea seeking disclosure of details of a Collegium meeting held on December 12, 2018, under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The petitioner sought the details of a meeting where certain decisions were purportedly taken on the elevation of some judges to the apex court.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar said that only resolutions drawn and signed by all Collegium members can be said to be a final decision. Tentative resolutions drawn upon discussion and consultation among the members cannot be said to be final unless they are signed by all of them, it said.
“Whatever is discussed shall not be in public domain. Only final decision required to be uploaded,” the top court added.
The top court was hearing a petition by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj against the Delhi High Court order dismissing her plea seeking the agenda of the Supreme Court Collegium’s meeting held on December 12.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Bhardwaj, said former apex court judge Justice MB Lokur, who was part of the SC Collegium in 2018, had said in public domain that the decisions taken at a Collegium meeting on December 12 that year should have been uploaded on the top court’s website.
On December 12, 2018, the Collegium headed by then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Lokur, AK Sikri, SA Bobde and NV Ramana (all retired) had purportedly taken certain decisions with regard to appointment of judges in the top court and proposals for transfer of chief justices and judges of high courts but those resolutions were not uploaded on the SC web site.
Later, on January 10, 2019, the Collegium, whose combination got changed due to the retirement of Justice Lokur, took another decision to recommend to the Centre the elevation of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna and said the recommendations dated December 12, 2018 proposed earlier could not be finalised as it was decided to have a fresh look at them.
At the January 10 meeting the Collegium decided to reconsider the earlier proposals in the light of additional material that became available.
Bhushan, who narrated the sequence of the purported events, told the bench that the petitioner is only seeking three specific documents related to the Collegium meeting of December 12, 2018.
“The question here is whether the decision of the Collegium comes under the purview of the Right to Information Act. The subsequent meeting dated January 10, 2019 mentions about the decision taken on December 12, 2018,” he said.
(With inputs from PTI)