SC asked to disclose the cases where judgment is reserved after completion of proceedings
There are many cases in which the hearing is completed but the orders are issued after a long delay. For example, the SC took 21 months to deliver the verdict after the completion of proceedings in the case of homosexuality where the High Court verdict was upturned. RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra had filed an application under the RTI Act to know about the pending cases which had been heard and in which orders had been reserved by the Supreme Court. When the case came up before the Central Information Commission in 2011, the CIC ordered to provide the information in public interest. The CIC also ruled that if the information was not available, the SC registry should make necessary arrangements for compiling such information and disclose it in the public domain in future.
The SC registry made a plea before the Delhi High Court that the CIC order violated Article 145 of the Constitution, under which the SC was empowered to make its own rules on procedure. It was also contended that although such data was maintained, it was not being collated in any particular format and a plea was made not to make it public. The Delhi High Court has now ruled that it was in the public interest to know how many and for how long cases in the Supreme Court awaited judgments after conclusion of arguments. Justice Vibhu Bakhru observed that “Indisputably, the period for which a case remains pending after the arguments, is relevant for any citizen who desires to know about the pendency of cases before the SC.” The judgment referred to a 2011 SC verdict which held that the confidence of the litigants in the results of the litigation is shaken if there is unreasonable delay in rendering a judgment after reserving it and observed that said information on pendency was “vital information regarding functioning of the courts”.
The HC gave partial relief to the SC registry while holding that the CIC could not have ordered to put all the statistics in the public domain in a prescribed format, but added that there was nothing wrong in directing that the records may be maintained in a manner so that the information regarding the period for which the judgments are pending after being reserved, is available with the petitioner in future. The bench dismissed the argument that the CIC order violated the powers of the SC.
It is only hoped that the SC registry accepts the judgment and implements the same to usher in more transparent working of the judiciary.