RTI provisions ‘grossly misused’, need changes: Balakrishnan

RTI provisions ‘grossly misused’, need changes: Balakrishnan

New Delhi: Holding that provisions of RTI were “grossly misused", former Supreme Court chief justice KG Balakrishnan on Friday favoured changes in the Act to protect independence of judiciary and right to privacy.

Addressing a seminar on ‘Right to Information - Key to good governance’, the chairperson of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also noted that the legislation was “probably" passed in Parliament “hurriedly".

“Like every other legislation, this (RTI Act) is also grossly misused by some people. Just like right to information, right to privacy is also an important right and independence of judiciary is an important thing.

“These are all on the basis of Constitution. Just like RTI Act, any other constitutionally valued principles should also be protected," the former chief justice said.

Balakrishnan noted that the Act was “wonderful" and has had “great impact" on Indian society but it is in fact “a sort of misuse" of the provisions of the Act which creates problem.

“Not drastic, but some cosmetic changes are required in the Act to plug the loopholes.....because probably the legislation was hurriedly passed and there is no intellectual discussion....," he said.

Balakrishnan, who demitted office of the chief justice in May, had consistently maintained during his tenure that his office does not come under the transparency law and hence cannot part with information like disclosure of judges’ assets under it.

In a path-breaking verdict, the Delhi high court had on January 12 held that the CJI’s office comes under the purview of the RTI Act following which the Supreme Court filed an appeal before itself challenging the judgement.

The former CJI noted that in over 50 countries, which have Right to Information Act, judiciary is “completely" exempted from the purview of the legislation except in India.

“I was told that it (RTI Act) is touching on privacy. That is also a serious subject".

“I also, in my previous office, had to fight it out to some extent. Any information regarding appointment of judges...about reputation and activities of chief justice we get written opinion. And we can not divulge it to the public. I strongly objected to these. But under the provisions of the Act, we had to divulge some of these informations. It could be misused," Balakrishnan maintained.