Jump to content
News Ticker
  • NPAs under PM Modi's Mudra scheme jumped 126% in FY19
  • shows RTI
  • RTI query reveals banking frauds of ₹ 2.05 Trillion reported in the last 11 years
  • 509 per cent rise in cases under child labour law: Study
  • The Central Information Commission has allowed disclosure of file notings on the mercy petition of a rape and murder convict, rejecting the government's contention that the records cannot be disclosed as these are privileged documents under Article 74(2) of the Constitution.
  • Electoral bonds worth over ₹5,800 crore were bought by donors to fund political parties between March 1, 2018 and May 10, 2019, a Right to Information reply has said.
  • Don't pay 500/- for answer sheet now- Supreme Court says if Answer sheet is asked under RTI, RTI Fees will be governed
  • 0
sidmis

My lord, you are rich!

Question

sidmis

MY LORD, YOU ARE RICH!

by Avijit Chatterjee in the TELEGRAPH July 15 , 2009

 

The government wants to bring in a law to make it mandatory for judges to declare their assets. Will it help root out corruption in the judiciary, asks Avijit Chatterjee

 

The recent spate of judicial scandals and the growing clamour for probity in public life have prompted the Centre to frame a law to make it mandatory for judges to declare their assets.

Union law minister Veerappa Moily has said that the government will soon bring legislation to make it mandatory for judges to disclose their assets. Such a law would put the judiciary on the same footing as bureaucrats and politicians.

 

However, the judiciary is not too keen on the idea. Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan recently expressed his fears that judges would be subjected to “vexatious litigations and harassment” if their assets were made public.

 

At present, judges voluntarily declare their assets when taking their oath and the information is kept with the respective high court or the Supreme Court. The CJI has so far refused to place these declarations in the public domain, insisting that a law be enacted first to prevent the misuse of such information.

 

Prashant Bhushan, senior Supreme Court lawyer and convenor, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform, however, scoffs at the idea that judges will be unduly harassed if people have access to information regarding their assets. “There is no legitimate reason for such fear unless they have something to hide. It only shows that the judges don’t want to declare their assets,” he says.

 

Bhushan adds that since they are public servants, judges should declare their assets to the public and not to the government. “Moreover, judges should not get away with a one-time declaration. They need to file their statements annually,” he says.

 

In January this year the Central Information Commission directed the Supreme Court to disclose information to one S.C. Agarwal, who had filed an application under the Right to Information Act, on whether or not Supreme Court judges declare their assets to the Chief Justice as required by their Code of Conduct.

 

But in its petition filed before the Delhi High Court, the apex court said, “The Code of Conduct is informal and purely voluntary and there is nothing under the Constitution or any law which requires the judges to declare their assets to the CJI.”

 

The Code of Conduct, passed in a full court meeting in May, 1997, and chaired by then Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma, requires judges to declare to the Chief Justice their assets, including property or any other investment in the name of their spouse and dependents, if any. This was reiterated in 1999 at a conference of the chief justices.

 

“However, this rule is followed more in its breach than in practice as only a handful of judges declare their assets,” says former Supreme Court judge V. Krishna Iyer.

 

Former Union law minister and senior Supreme Court lawyer Shanti Bhushan says it is inexplicable that the judges of the Supreme Court are unwilling to declare their assets, particularly when they had directed candidates contesting elections to publicly declare their assets. “Should people not have the right to know the antecedents of judges who decide their fate every day,” he asks.

 

Though India is yet to frame a law that requires judges to declare their assets, many countries in the West do have such laws. For example, in the US, under the Ethics in Government Act, 1978, judges of the US Supreme Court and all other judicial officers are required to disclose their assets and income every year.

 

In the UK judges declare their assets to the Lord Chancellor’s department when taking their oath. But the information is protected under the Data Protection Act. “These personal details are not revealed to the public. In fact, there would be a huge uproar if such a demand is ever made,” says barrister and senior counsel Vijay S.T. Shankardass.

 

The demand for the declaration of judges’ assets gathered momentum in India after a series of scams involving the judiciary erupted last year. It started with the Justice Sabharwal case where former CJI Y.K. Sabharwal was charged by the Central Vigilance Commision in January 2008 with misusing his official position to promote the business interests of his sons. Though the Supreme Court refused to order any inquiry against Justice Sabharwal, the government belatedly started a probe after receiving petitions from eminent citizens.

 

The Ghaziabad provident fund scam dented the image of the judiciary further. In July 2008 the Uttar Pradesh police disclosed evidence on the alleged involvement of 34 judges in the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 23 crore from the provident fund of class III and IV employees in the Ghaziabad judiciary. Those accused included one Supreme Court judge, eight judges of the Allahabad High Court, one each from the Uttarakhand and Calcutta High Courts and 23 lower court judges. The matter was referred to the CBI after the UP police expressed its inability to investigate high court judges in various states.

 

Another instance of corruption in the judiciary came to light in August, 2008 when a clerk of a senior Haryana law officer allegedly delivered Rs 15 lakh at the residence of Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Nirmaljit Singh Kaur. Later, it turned out that the money was meant for another judge, Nirmal Yadav, of the same court. Justice Yadav was recently given a clean chit by the attorney general of India.

 

In yet another sensational development, CJI Balakrishnan recommended the removal of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court after he was allegedly found to have indulged in financial misconduct prior to his elevation as a judge in December, 2003. In a lawsuit between Steel Authority of India Ltd and Shipping Corporation of India, Sen is said to have received Rs 32 lakh in his capacity as the court appointed receiver and deposited the amount in his personal account. The government has constituted a three- member panel for Justice Sen’s impeachment.

 

Experts point out that given the extent of corruption in the judiciary, a mandatory declaration of assets alone may not be enough. “All these cases indicate a deep-rooted malaise in the judiciary which has enabled corrupt judges to function with impunity. The need of the hour is to set up an independent National Judicial Commission empowered to examine complaints against judges and take action against them,” says former Supreme Court judge P.B. Sawant.

 

Krishna Iyer feels an appointment commission, rather than the present system of a collegium of sitting judges choosing new judges, would make the selection of judges transparent. The commission should verify information relating to antecedents, family background, assets and business relations of the judges before their appointment, he adds.

 

That said, a law to ensure that judges declare their assets would be an encouraging start to efforts to clean up the judiciary. But will the government fly in the face of judicial disapproval and force the judges to divulge information about their assets?

 

Time, as they say, will tell.

 

The Telegraph - Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | My Lord, you are rich!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 answer to this question

Recommended Posts

  • 0
Solomon1

Tough move and the Govt, has to initiate.

 

And yes, Time as they say will tell. It will surely tell. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Answer this question...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Similar Content

    • momita
      By momita
      If a candidate seeks information under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, then payment has to be sought under the RTI Rules.
      The question before the Supreme Court was which Guidelines/Rules will govern the prescription of fee for copies of answer sheets and their inspection.
      The Court held that while the ICSI is governed by the Companies Secretaries Act, 1980 and the Examination Committee formed under the statute prescribes a certain fee, the RTI Rules also lay down a fee structure for procurement of answer sheets. The Court held,
      “In our opinion, the existence of these two avenues is not mutually exclusive and it is up to the candidate to choose either of the routes. Thus, if a candidate seeks information under the provisions of the Right to Information, then payment has to be sought under the Rules therein, however, if the information is sought under the Guidelines of the appellant, then the appellant is at liberty to charge the candidates as per its guidelines.”
      The decision was rendered by a Bench of Justices NV Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer, which made it clear that if there are other avenues to procure answer sheets, the applicant can choose which one to route her request through.
      The RTI Rules entitle a student to seek inspection and certified copies of their answer scripts. When this right is exercised, Rule 4 will govern the levy of the required charges. This Rule stipulates a fee of Rs. 2 for each page of the answer script. For inspection, no fee is prescribed for the first hour. For every subsequent hour of inspection, the fee is Rs. 5 per hour.
      The order came in an appeal filed by the Institute of Companies Secretaries of India (ICSI) against a decision of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court.
      The respondent, Advocate Paras Jain, had sought from ICSI certified copies of answer sheets and their inspection under RTI. He was charged a fee for the same as per Guideline No. 3 notified by the Statutory Council of the ICSI. As per the ICSI Guidelines, the fee for the supply of certified copies was Rs. 500 per answer sheet, and the charge for inspection was Rs. 450 per answer book.
      Download the decision here.15222_2014_Order_11-Apr-2019.pdf
    • momita
      By momita
      Eleven years after a lawyer sought details under the Right to Information Act from the Gujarat high court, the HC directed its public information officer (PIO) to furnish the details to the applicant.
      According to the commission's advocate, Shivang Shukla, an advocate, Kamlesh Bhavsar, had in 2007 sought information regarding appointment of judges to the Gujarat judiciary since 1990. The PIO supplied information regarding corruption charges against judicial officers and about their convictions within the time limit.

      However, the PIO refused to supply information on Bhavsar's request to furnish the names of all the judges - from the rank of judicial magistrate first class in the lower courts to the justices of the high court - appointed between 1990 and 2007. The PIO told the lawyer that he has asked for the information from the branches concernedand collating the details would take more time. He said he would supply information about the appointments as and when he got the details.

      On the PIO's refusal to part with the information at the same time, citing the delay in collating the details, Bhavsar filed an appeal before the state information commission, seeking a reply from the HC PIO about the applicant's grievance. In reply to commission's query, the HC's PIO explained his position and sent the details that had been collated to the commission, for it to supply to the lawyer. The PIO sent the information to the commission and requested it to supply the details to advocate Bhavsar, if it thought it fit.

      The commission ordered the HC PIO to supply the information to the lawyer. This did not go down well with the HC authorities and the registry challenged the commission's order on the judicial side in 2011. The HC last week dismissed its own petition.
      While directing the PIO to supply the information to the lawyer under RTE laws, Justice A J Desai dismissed the petition filed by the high court itself, in which it had challenged the directions issued to the HC by the Gujarat Information Commission, for furnishing the required information to the lawyer.

       

      View full entry

Announcements

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy