A five-judge Constitution bench will decide whether the Supreme Court falls under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, the apex court ruled on Wednesday. While hearing a petition that dates back to 2009, a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi, Praffula C Pant and A M Khanwilkar said, "A substantial question of law is involved...which needs to be interpreted," according to The New Indian Express. It added that the matter required the Constitution's interpretation as the independence of the judiciary and people's fundamental right to know needed to be balanced.
In 2009, the apex court had challenged a Delhi High Court verdict from the same year, which had ruled that the Chief Justice of India was a public authority under the RTI Act. It also directed the court to make its judges' assets public, after which the top court filed a plea filed through the Central Information Commission. Referring to this order, advocate Prashant Bhushan said, "An impression was gaining ground that when it comes to others, the Supreme Court directs them, even poll candidates, to disclose their assets, but when it comes to judges, it shies away."
If it is decided that the Supreme Court is not excluded from revealing information under the RTI Act, the Chief Justice of India will have to disclose information related to the appointment of judges as well as other correspondence with the government, in addition to file notings, according to The Times of India.