SC declines informaion on judges’ medical expenses

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an RTI activist’s plea for information on the reimbursement of medical expenses of the apex court’s sitting and retired judges and their families in the last three years.

“We are using the public money for medical treatment that we are entitled to,” said the apex court bench, comprising Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy, dismissing the petition by Right to Information activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal.

“Where does it stop? You must respect the privacy of the judges,” Chief Justice Dattu observed as the petitioner’s counsel Prashant Bhushan tried to persuade the court that reimbursement of medical expenses of judges and their families are made from the public exchequer, thus disclosure of this information is covered under the Right to Information Act.

“The reimbursement of medical expenses of judges is paid out of the consolidated fund of India. Can it be said that it has no relationship with the public activity and public interest?” Bhushan said to the court.

Bhushan said there could not be two yardsticks — one for judges and other for public servants – and if the apex court was to uphold the Delhi High Court order of April 17, 2015, rejecting the petitioner’s plea, it would create a “bad precedent”.

“It would not only create a bad law but send a wrong message to society.”

“The information sought by the appellant (Agarwal) includes the details of the medical facilities availed by the individual judges. The same being personal information, we are of the view that providing such information would undoubtedly amount to invasion of privacy,” the Supreme Court bench said.

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