Supreme Court: In a matter seeking disclosure of details of Supreme Court Collegium’s meeting dated 12.12.2018, the bench of MR Shah* and CT Ravikumar, JJ has held that unless any Collegium discussion culminates into a final decision, the discussion shall not be disclosed to public. As per the Resolution dated 03.10.2017 only the final resolution and the final decision is required to be uploaded on the Supreme Court’s website.
In the case at hand, the petitioner had preferred a Right to Information application seeking copy of resolution and decision taken in the Supreme Court Collegium’s meeting dated 12.12.2018. Relying upon some article published in the media and the interview given by one of the members of the Collegium who was part of the Collegium held on 12.12.2018, the petitioner asserted that even though some decisions were taken by the Collegium on the elevation of two Chief Justices of the High Courts to the Supreme Court, from the subsequent Resolution dated 10.01.2019, it appeared that as such no final decision was taken on the elevation to the Supreme Court.
It is, however, pertinent to note that in the Collegium meeting held on 12.12.2018 there was no final decision taken and even as observed in the subsequent resolution meeting held on 10.01.2019, it was so stated that the then Collegium on 12.12.2018 took certain decisions, however, the required consultation could not be undertaken and completed.
The Court, therefore, observed that as no final decision was taken which was culminated into a final resolution drawn and signed by all the members of the Collegium, the same was not required to be disclosed in the public domain and that too under the RTI Act.
The Court explained that,
“Some discussions might have taken place but unless and until, a final decision is taken after due consultation and on the basis of such a final decision a final resolution is drawn, whatever discussions had taken place cannot be said to be a final decision of the Collegium. The actual resolution passed by the Collegium only can be said to be a final decision of the Collegium and till then at the most, it can be said to be a tentative decision during the consultation.”
Hence, only after the final resolution is drawn and signed by the members of the Collegium, which is always after completing the due procedure and the process of discussion/deliberations and consultation, the same required to be published on the Supreme Court website as per Resolution dated 03.10.2017.
[Anjali Bhardwaj v. CPIO, Supreme Court of India, (RTI Cell), 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1698, decided on 09.12.2022]
*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah
For petitioner: Advocate Prashant Bhushan