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Friday, August 21, 2009

More on Judiciary Accountability: A High Court Judge says the CJI's views are not shared by all

We have seen repeated attempts to bring the Judiciary under the RTI being resisted at the highest level of the Judiciary, namely the CJI. The CJI has not only maintained repeatedly that the RTI doesn't apply to the office of the Judges, but, has also maintained that the it will harass the judges unnecessarily. 
Now it transpires that every judge doesn't agree with the CJIs contention after all and there is one at least willing to speak his mind and willing to share his asset status with the public. 
A Karnataka High Court judge has taken on the Chief Justice of India in a newspaper article writing that the CJI can't speak on behalf of the judiciary regarding declaration of assets by the judges.
"It's a misnomer to think that the judges of the superior courts, who enjoy constitutional protection and immunity are not ready to disclose their assets," Justice DV Shylendra Kumar wrote in the New Indian Express.
Justice DV Shylendra Kumar article in the newspaper shows that the judiciary is split over the declaration of assets.
Referring to CJI KG Balakrishnan's remarks that judges could be harassed if their assets were made public, Kumar wrote, "On a legal place the CJI does not have the authority to speak for all judges of the Supreme Court, or High Courts, unless any of them have either confided in the Chief Justice or have authorised him to speak on behalf of others."
Supreme Court Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan had remarked that judges could be harassed if their assets were made public.
The Government had to withdraw the Bill on Judges' Assets in the last session of Parliament after a chorus of protest from the Opposition against the provision that a judge's assets would be beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act.
Justice Kumar argued that it was the Supreme Court itself that pushed RTI and said that he was than willing to declare his assets in public.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan supported Justice Kumar's stand to reveal judge's assets.
"The leadership of the Court i.e, the CJI and some other senior judges do not want to reveal their assets. As rightly said by the Karnataka judge that if the CJI doesn't have any authority to stop any judge of the Supreme court or judges of the High Court from declaring his/her asset if he is willing to do so. Any judge, who is willing to reveal his/her assets and wants to put it up on the website has every right to do so. If he is being prevented to do so by other judges of the Supreme court or judges of the High Court then it is very unfortunate," said Prashant Bhushan.

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