Delhi HC - Medical expenses of SC judges not to be disclosed under RTI Act
In February 2012, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had directed to disclose the medical reimbursements made to the judges of the Supreme Court. On appeal, a single member bench of the Delhi High Court quashed the order of the CIC on Dec 19, 2014 holding that the disclosure of the medical reimbursements would not serve any public interest. The Court ruled that the disclosure of medical bills would be an invasion of the privacy of the individual. The RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agarwal had filed a petition against the order of the single bench. The petitioner argued that as per the Constitution, the salaries, pensions and allowances payable to the judges of Supreme Court are to be charged under the Consolidated Fund of India.. The petitioner argued that the information pertaining to expenditure of public money on public servants cannot be exempt from disclosure under RTI Act. He further contended that the request is limited to the quantum of money spent on the illness and not about the nature of illness.
On April 18, 2015, a division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Deepa Sharma of Hon’ble Delhi High Court ruled that there was no larger public interest involved in seeking details of medical facilities availed by the individual judges of the Supreme Court and no direction whatsoever could be issued under the Right to Information Act, 2005. The Court dismissed the petition seeking the release of medical expenses incurred by Supreme Court judges. The court asked Prashant Bhushan the counsel for the petitioner, as to what public purpose would be served by releasing this information. The Bench observed that a consolidated amount which was apportioned as medical expenditure for the judges has already been provided. The petitioner argued that the petition ought not to be treated as a probe into the medical history of each judge. The petitioner referred to an application file in the past during the Sheila Dixit government seeking the medical records of serving MLAs which was provided. Subhash Chandra Agrawal asserted that if the medical records of the legislators can be disclosed, there is little reason not to disclose those of the judges.
The bench observed that“…we are unable to understand how the public interest requires disclosure of the details of the medical facilities availed by the individual judges. In the absence of any such larger public interest, no direction whatsoever can be issued under the RTI Act by the appellate authorities.”
The petitioner said that the consolidated figure of all the expenses of all employees in the Supreme Court does not serve any purpose of the petition and he intended to move to the Supreme Court with a Special Leave Petition.