ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA v. PROVINCIAL COURT JUDGES’ ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH COLUMBIA 2020 SCC 20

Confidentiality is required to be maintained for a cabinet document used to decide Judges’ pay.

According to the Constitution, the State comprises three branches, namely the executive, the Legislative and the judiciary. Each Branch plays a vital role in democracy though having independence of working. Judiciary works and performs its functions independently without having any intrusion from two of the other branches. The decisions are made by the judges with free will even when some judgements are not popular. The processes of the court can be decided only by the judges and when they are financially stable, any sort of financial pressure holds no count. The independent commissions decide salaries of judges, after making recommendations to the government. In case the governments disagree with the recommendations they have to formally state the reasons for such disagreement. However, no provision exits for negotiation with the government in order to avoid issues of political nature. The decisions regarding the salary of judges can only be done by the legislative and executive branch of the state. The decisions are then reviewed by the courts to ensure that the working of government is as per the provisions of the constitution. The reasons for not following the recommendation are closely examined by the courts in order to check that the government adheres to the role of commission and independence of judiciary. In territories of British Columbia and Nova Scotia the recommendations were made by the Commissions regarding the salaries of judges. All the recommendations were not considered by the concerned governments and later the courts were asked by associations of judges to review the decision as the confidential cabinet documents which are used for decision making needs to be disclosed. Both the lower courts of provinces asked for disclosure of documents to which the court said it can be done only in certain conditions. There must be enough reasons to prove that the government failed to fulfil its obligations and if so, the documents can be reviewed only by the judge. If it is found by the judge that the governments failed to abide and follow the obligations, the judge can decide whether to release such documents or not. In the case of British Columbia, the court believed that the release of documents holds no good reason to show that obligations were not followed by the government. The court in Nova Scotia case believed that for deciding the salaries of the judges, the release of documents might help to show that governments failed to follow the obligations. The Cabinet document was reviewed by the court which confirmed that some of the obligations were not followed by the government. The sharing of parts can’t be prevented with the purview of Public interest immunity. The principle of Rule of Law needs to be followed even by the Courts. Courts are an integral part of society and the constitution doesn’t exempt courts in any way, otherwise there would be no faith in the system by the people to believe and seek justice. Judicial independence is important not just for citizens but for judges as well.