Breaking : Supreme Court Refuses To Disclose Justice Patnaik’s Probe Report On ‘Larger Conspiracy’ Against Judiciary Under RTI

first_imgTop StoriesBreaking : Supreme Court Refuses To Disclose Justice Patnaik’s Probe Report On ‘Larger Conspiracy’ Against Judiciary Under RTI LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK18 March 2021 1:44 AMShare This – xThe Public Information Officer of the Supreme Court has refused to disclose the details of a report submitted by former SC Judge, Justice AK Patnaik, on the probe into the “larger conspiracy” behind the sexual harassment allegations levelled against the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. In response to an RTI application filed by journalist Saurav Das seeking details of the…Your free access to Live Law has expiredTo read the article, get a premium account.Your Subscription Supports Independent JournalismSubscription starts from ₹ 599+GST (For 6 Months)View PlansPremium account gives you:Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.Subscribe NowAlready a subscriber?LoginThe Public Information Officer of the Supreme Court has refused to disclose the details of a report submitted by former SC Judge, Justice AK Patnaik, on the probe into the “larger conspiracy” behind the sexual harassment allegations levelled against the then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi. In response to an RTI application filed by journalist Saurav Das seeking details of the report, the CPIO of Supreme Court said, “the nature of information sought is exempt under Section 8(1)(b), 8(1)(j) and Section 11(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.” ‘2 Years Passed; Remote Possibility Of Recovery Of Electronic Evidence’ : SC Says Closing Probe Into ‘Larger Conspiracy’ Against Ex-CJI GogoiSection 8(1)(b) exempts disclosure of “information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court”Section 8(1)(j) exempts disclosure of such information which relates to personal information which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual concerned. Section 11 exempts disclosure of third party information.BackgroundIn 2019, in response to some media reports on sexual harassment allegations against the then CJI Ranjan Gogoi made by a former Supreme Court employee, the SC initiated a suo moto case titled “In Re : Matter Of Great Public Importance Touching Upon The Independence Of Judiciary-Mentioned By Shri Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India” The former CJI Gogoi had claimed that there was a bigger plot behind the allegations and, that the people who had instituted the same wanted to “deactivate the office of CJI” and therefore, the independence of the judiciary was under very serious threat.In the suo moto case, a Bench of Justices Arun Misra, RF Nariman and Deepak Gupta ordered that the former Supreme Court Judge, Justice AK Patnaik, would hold an inquiry regarding the alleged conspiracy by fixers and disgruntled employees against the former CJI. Recently, the Supreme Court closed the suo moto proceedings by observing, “two years having passed and the possibility of recovery of electronic records at this distance of time is remote, especially since the scope of the enquiry and the power of the learned Judge is limited, no useful purpose will be served by continuing these proceedings.”The closure order passed by Justice Kaul-led bench further observed that the report of Justice Patnaik – which has not been made available in public domain – acknowledged that the “existence of a conspiracy cannot be completely ruled out”.RTI Application sought disclosure of probe reportSourav Das had moved an application under the RTI Act seeking copy of the entire enquiry report of Justice Patnaik. He contended that after the enactment of the RTI Act, no public authority can escape disclosure of information by deciding to keep records in sealed cover. “Since the RTI Act does not have any provision to exempt information from disclosure merely on the ground that it is in a sealed cover, the public authority cannot choose to deny such information,” Das said in his application. In this context, he also referred to a decision of the Central Information Commission in KK Agnihotri v. Ministry of Communication & IT, where it was held, “if the desired information is kept in a sealed cover and it is not otherwise covered by any of the exemption provisions, then it must be disclosed after opening the cover.” In its reply, the CPIO, Supreme Court said that Das was not a party to the judicial proceedings. Further, information with respect to any judicial matter may be sought only by moving an application under the Supreme Court Rules, 2013. Even otherwise, the information is exempted under the RTI Act. It may be noted that the suo moto case to probe into the “larger conspiracy” behind the allegations was closed by the Supreme Court last month, in view of Justice Patnaik’s report. On the claims made Advocate Utsav Bains that he was approached by certain “fixers” and “plotters” to file complaint against Gogoi, Patnaik had said, “it is not possible to find corroborative material qua the allegations of Mr. Utsav Singh Bains made in the affidavit”. In the order closing the proceedings, the Supreme Court noted that Justice A.K. Patnaik has not been able to obtain various records including electronic records of Whatsapp, Telegram etc. The report also referred to letter of the Director of the Intelligence Bureau which stated on account of the then Chief Justice of India taking serious tough decisions like in the case relating to National Register of Citizens (NRC), there was strong reason to believe that persons who were unhappy with those decisions hatched a conspiracy against the then Chief Justice of India. Also Read: CJI Sexual Harassment Case : A TimelineClick here to read/download the RTI replyNext Storylast_img read more