Monday, November 02, 2009

How the Right to Info battle was won

In a historic decision, the Supreme Court Of India has today uploaded the assets and liabilities of 21 Supreme Court sitting judges including the Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on its website. It is another huge step for the Right to Information Act revolution in the country.

Take a look at how the RTI battle was won, blow by blow over a two-year period:

Nov 11 2007: Right To Information Act activist Subhash C Aggarwal files petition before the Supreme Court seeking information about the judges assets.

Nov 2007: Information is denied to him.

Dec 2007: Agarwal files an appeal before SC's registry.

Jan 2008: SC's registry dismisses the appeal.

Mar 2008: Aggarwal approaches the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC)

Jan 2009: CIC asks SC to disclose information stating that Chief Justice’s office comes under the purview of the RTI Act.

Jan 2009: SC moves Delhi High Court against CIC order.

Jan 19, 2009: Delhi HC stays CIC order and asks constitutional expert Fali S Nariman to help it decide the legal issue. Nariman refuses to assist the court stating that he could not be impartial in the case as he firmly believed that judges should declare their assets voluntarily.

Feb 26, 2009: SC says judges cannot reveal personal information like assets under the RTI Act to the Chief Justice of India

Mar 17, 2009: SC says its judges are not averse to declaring their assets and suggests that the Parliament could enact a law regarding such a declaration and that it should not be misused by the executive.

May 1, 2009: Delhi High Court Bar Association moves plea in HC stating that judges should voluntarily declare their assets.

May 2009: SC warns that such transparency could affect its independence.

Aug 28, 2009: Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan says judges have agreed to declare their assets voluntarily, and the information would be put on apex court website.

Sep 2009: HC rules that Chief Justice’s office falls under the ambit of RTI Act and details of assets could be made public.

Oct 2009: SC challenges HC's order before a division bench.

Nov 2, 2009: SC registry put on its website details of assets of CJI and 20 other judges including a retired judge.

Balakrishnan, by the way, owns a Santro car, has no fixed deposits, and does not hold any investment in shares, according to the document on the website.

You can now access the assets list on Supreme Court website
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