No questions on judges’ assets: HC

No further questions need to be entertained under the Right to Information Act on the wealth details of the Supreme Court judges posted on its website, Delhi High Court observed on Thursday.

But the court said the 1997 resolution passed by the Supreme Court judges for declaring their assets was binding on them as it was part of the self-regulatory mechanism for the judiciary.

“There is no obligation to give further information under RTI other than what is on the website. What can be disclosed is only the information with the Chief Justice of India,” it said.

The oral remarks from a special three-judge bench came during the hearing of an appeal filed by the Supreme Court, challenging a single judge ruling that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under the purview of the RTI Act.

It surely left Attorney General G.E. Vahanavati, defending the Supreme Court, beaming. “If your lordships hold that further information cannot be sought then I’m happy. This exactly was our main concern,” he told the bench headed by Chief Justice A.P. Shah.

Judges can”t be put under public scrutiny: SC

New Delhi, Nov 13 (PTI) The Supreme Court today said judges cannot be put under public scrutiny as it would hamper their functioning and independence. “We cannot expose our judges to public scrutiny or inquiry because it would hamper their functioning and independence,” Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, appearing for apex court registry, contended before the Delhi High Court.

The argument was made while challenging the verdict of a single-judge bench of the High Court which had held that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the purview of Right to Information Act and details of judges” assets should be revealed. The AG contended other agencies should not be allowed to interfere in the judiciary.

“Judges cannot be judged by public perception. The Judiciary cannot be exposed to third party.

There is no problem in having better transparency and accountability in the system but it should come from within the system,” he told a full bench court of the High Court headed by Chief Justice A P Shah. The single bench of the High Court had in its September 2 verdict on the controversial issue held that the CJI was a public authority and his office came within the purview of the transparency law.

The judgment was contrary to the stand taken by CJI K G Balakrishnan who had consistently been maintaining that his office is beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act. more PTI .

Assets: ‘SC judges need not reveal more’

New Delhi It seems the declaration of assets by the Chief Justice of India and his 21 judges on their website are just enough, if not more.

A three-member Special Bench of the Delhi High Court on Thursday said the Right to Information cannot legally probe further. The reason, simply put, is that the RTI Act, 2005, does not ask for more. The Bench of Chief Justice A P Shah and Justices Vikramjit Sen and S Muralidhar said Supreme Court judges are under no obligation to reveal more of their wealth than what they have voluntarily declared to the Chief Justice of India.

On November 2, Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and his judges, one of them retired, posted details of movable and immovable properties owned by them and their spouses on the website.

The court is of the opinion that the SC judges may have even overreacted by revealing their spouses’ wealth though the 1997 Resolution of the Supreme Court expressly demands it. “What if the wife has her own business and is wealthy? Does it mean she has to declare her assets, income tax returns, etc?” the Bench said. “With great humility we notice an aberration in the Resolution. It is as if after marriage the wife is holding on to the husband’s property,” the Bench noted.

The Bench is hearing an appeal filed by the Supreme Court against a “too broad and slightly unnecessary” — as Attorney General of India G E Vahanvati puts it — verdict of Justice S Ravindra Bhatt of the High Court, directing the SC judges to make public their assets under the RTI.

The sweep of the RTI Act, 2005 seemed to shrink in the courtroom when Chief Justice Shah asked the AG, who appeared for the SC, what was “so complicated” about the issue of declaration of judges’ assets under the RTI.

“Earlier, the information on assets declarations was with the Chief Justice of India, held in confidentiality. Now, after they have been posted it on the website, there is nothing more to declare. There is no need to even put in an RTI application — the information is open to all. What is so complicated about all this? … RTI cannot ask further,” the Chief Justice said. As per the RTI Act, a public authority is only liable to give information available with it, that too, if the disclosure of the information is in public interest. To this, Vahanvati simply said: “I am happy.”

However, Justice Muralidhar, seemed dissatisfied. “But what if there is more to declare (by the judges)?” he asked Vahanvati. He continued: “We talk of ourselves, the judiciary, as a self-regulating and self-correcting body. The 1997 Resolution identifies certain values like declaration of assets. So when members of the judiciary identify certain values, isn’t it enough to make it binding?” At this point, the Attorney General clarified that though he strongly believes in RTI, he sincerely believes in protection of judges.—SC-judges-need-not-reveal-more-/540847/

Speeches of CJI of India 2008


YEAR 2008