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Case Brief |Santosh Gupta vs. Union of India

Facts:

The claimant in the respective written petition was a lawyer in Allahabad’s High Court. The petitioner made allegations concerning the appointment of additional magistrate judges to the High Court of Allahabad, and asked for explanations for appointing the 3 extra judges of the High court of Allahabad, including those of Judge A.N. Verma and Justice N.N. Mittal must’ve been selected as permanent judge based over already issued warrants.

There were several petitions in the preceding case that raised serious constitutional problems about the nomination and transfer of judges as well as about the independence of the court, which was all addressed. The major points highlighted the legitimacy of Central Government orders not to appoint two judges. The petitioners, in this case, requested to disclose correspondence between the Minister of the Law, Chief Judge of Delhi High Court, and the Chief Justice of India for supporting their argument.

Nevertheless, under Article 74(2) of the constitution, whereby the suggestions delivered to the President by the Minister’s Council would not be examined by whatsoever Court, the State asserted exclusive rights from the revelation of such material, and Section 123 of the Indian Evidence Act states that manifestations extracted from formal state affairs records which are not published are not available to the President. 

Issue:

The legitimacy of the Centre’s decisions over the non-designation of two judges, as well as the revelation of an interaction document between the law minister, the CJ of the High Court of Delhi, and the CJI, were topics of discussion.

Court Observation:

The Indian Supreme Court, in one of the judgments ruled by Justice Bhagwati, dismissed the arrogation of government to protect from revelation and instructed the central government to release records of agreements.

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Free and efficient participative democratic demands; public answerability and admittance to government credentials and data. Unrestricted government exposure will provide pristine and proper governance and checks the strong control of tyranny, corruption,, and misuse of power.

The conception of a type of open government is directly derived from the right to information, which is inherent in the right to freedom of speech and a speech given in the Indian Constitution under Article 19(1)(a).

The publication of information concerning the operation of government must therefore be the exception and confidentiality only justified where the strictest necessity of public interest requires it.

There are just two reasons why the Central Government can appeal the decision on appointment and transfer:

 (1) the union of India and competent officials have had no complete or effective consultation;

(2) the conclusion has been made on impertinent pieces of evidence. The agreement in inquiry is applicable for these two reasons, that require its publication. The interest of the public depends based on the Evidence Act protection argument.

Following these considerations, the Court shall evaluate if the disclosure of a certain document is averse to the interest of the public. This should weigh the interest of the public in reasonable judicial governance by revealing the interest and domain of the public that is claimed to be shielded by non-disclosure, and further determine whether the document can be safeguarded.

According to the petitioners, Article 124 (2) has used the word “may” and therefore the central government may, when choosing judges, consult the justices of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

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And if not, the Chief Justice of India’s opinion should be definitive. The Court explained that the word “may” in the article makes it only optional for the central government to be consulted by the judge. The central government cannot consult or not.

Therefore, the central government must consult, but in the end, the central government must have the ability to appoint.

Held:

The Supreme Court disregarded the argument of the central govt. for security towards the revelation of data and ordered the UOI to process required data available to the public on demand.

A particular document about state activities is only exempted from disclosure if revelation would be opposed to the domain of citizens, which in this case is the designation and transferral of judges, which is considered of enormous public importance, according to the Court.

Correspondence was judged to be unsecured in this present case. It dealt with the designation and transferral of judges and the public interest, and the domain of citizens would not have been damaged by its revelation.

To secure correspondence, arresting badly advised or imprisoning open or criticism of politics was insufficient. The Court decided after considering the correspondence that the central government decree was justified in respect of non-designation.

Regarding the argument in Article 74(2), the Court held that the Ministers Council’s advice given to the President, even though secured contrary to legal inspection, in this case, the agreement among the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the CJ of High Court of Delhi and the CJI Supreme Court were not secured simply due to the reason that it was mentioned as advice.

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In this specific case, the judiciary has established a new method to provide social justice to the underprivileged who have been mistreated and abused over the years, taking into consideration the constitutional mandate as well as changing trends in Indian society.

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