Thursday, April 18, 2024

Sealed cover practice must end: CJI Chadrachud

The sealed cover procedure must stop as it is “fundamentally contrary to the basic process of fair justice”, said Chief Justice of India D Y Chadrachud on Monday.

The apex court was hearing the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement’s (IESM) plea on payment of One Rank One Pension (OROP) arrears.

At the previous hearing, the court had directed the government to provide a note outlining their progress in paying pensioners their dues, including what has been done, what remains to be done, the timeframe, and the shortest possible time frame for payment. However, at the latest hearing, the Attorney General of India, R Venkataramani, submitted the note in a sealed cover, stating that it was confidential.

The bench was not satisfied with this and questioned why the note could not be shared with the counsel representing the pensioners. The Chief Justice of India (CJI) expressed his personal opposition to sealed covers, stating that they go against the fundamental principles of the judicial process. He argued that secrecy has no place in the court and that transparency is essential for fair and just decision-making.

“I am personally averse to sealed covers. What happens is, we see something he does not see. And we decide the case without showing it to him. This is fundamentally contrary to the judicial process. There cannot be secrecy in the Court. The Court has to be transparent,” said the CJI.

He went on to say: “We need to put an end to this sealed cover procedure which is being followed in the Supreme Court because then the High Courts will also start following. And this is fundamentally contrary to the basic process of fair justice.”

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