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sidmis

Judges’ wealth: Info body seeks opinions

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sidmis

Judges’ wealth: Info body seeks opinions

 

As Reported By Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan New Delhi, July 04, 2008

 

In an attempt to settle the controversy surrounding the implementation of Right to Information Act in the judiciary, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed Supreme Court officials and the Department of Personnel and Training to present their views on the matter.

 

The CIC, in separate notices to the court and department officials, has directed them to be present before its full bench hearing on July 11 with their replies on the controversial issue of whether the wealth details of judges should be made public or not.

 

The commission directive follows an appeal filed by a Delhi resident, based on a series of recent reports by Hindustan Times, highlighting the refusal of Supreme Court and High Court judges to make public the details of their wealth under the RTI Act. In his appeal, Subhash Chandra Aggarwal has sought to know whether the Supreme Court implemented its own resolution making it mandatory for Supreme Court and High Court judges to submit their wealth details to respective chief justices regularly.

 

The resolution, passed in a full court meeting attended by 22 judges in May 1997, chaired by then Chief Justice of India, Justice JS Verma, stated: "Every judge of the Supreme Court and High Courts, should within a reasonable timeframe of appointment, provide details to the Chief Justice of all assets in the form of real estate or investment held by him, his/her spouse or anyone dependant on them".

 

However, it is not known whether this resolution, which did not have a legal backing was ever implemented. Asked about the resolution, Justice Verma said, "It was implemented during my tenure and at that time names of even High Court judges were cleared by the collegium only on furnishing the details of assets. I cannot comment on what happened after I demitted office in 1998".

 

The CIC has also issued a notice to the DoPT on a separate appeal filed by Aggarwal, in which he has sought to know whether the Chief Justice of India and High Court Chief Justices were covered under the RTI Act or not.

 

The appeal is based on replied given by the Supreme Court and comments made by CJI KG Balakrishnan in April this year that being a constitutional functionary, his office did not come in the purview of the RTI Act. The CIC decision in the matter would finally settle the controversy surrounding the extent to which the Act could be implemented in the judiciary.

 

Justice Balakrishnan’s statement claiming exemption from the RTI Act, was strongly countered by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law & Justice.

 

Judges? wealth: Info body seeks opinions- Hindustan Times

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colnrkurup

Such an information was denied by the PIO of Kerala High Court recently. I have posted reaction of Justice VR Krishna Iyer in this forum. Mr.Iyer had advanced certain important aspects worth noting for future arguments.

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karira

CIC has announced a full bench hearing on 20 October 2008 to decide a matter relating to S C Agarwal v/s Supreme Court:

Information about declaration of all assets in form of real estate or

investments held in the name of Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court or their spouse and also information about declaration of their assets by Hon’ble High Court Judges to their respective Chief Justices.

 

Interested people can file their submissions before the CIC before 1700 Hours on 17 October 2008.

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navdeep

It is highly unethical on part of higher judiciary that they want to keep themselves out of ambit of RTI Act 2005. This will set an precedent and further Public Authorities will start getting exemptions.

 

As DGIT (Inv) which has no relationship to secrecy related to defence of India has been exempted under schedule 2 of RTI Act.

 

Basically in India, public authorities are in fear now a days as they are being exposed using RTI Act.

 

Keep in mind

 

ROAD TO SUCCESS IS ALWAYS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

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sidmis

CIC to decide if details of judges' assets covered under RTI

as reported in Times of India, 15 Oct 2008, PTI

 

NEW DELHI: Are details of assets owned by Supreme Court and High Courts covered under the Right to Information Act?

 

The tricky question, which can have a bearing on issues related to judicial transparency, will be heard in two separate full bench hearings of the Central Information Commission on October 20.

 

In a public notice, the Commission has invited comments from individuals and organisations on the issue and asked them to give their written submissions on or before October 17.

 

The question is linked to an RTI plea of Subhash Agrawal who had sought information about a resolution passed by a full-court meeting of Supreme Court judges in 1997 on declaration of assets by judges.

 

The resolution required "every judge to make a declaration of all assets in the form of real estate or investments held in their name or their spouse and any other person dependent on them to the Chief Justice."

 

Agrawal wanted to know if such a declaration of assets had ever been filed by judges of the Supreme Court before Chief Justice of India and High Court judges before Chief Justices of respective states.

 

The Chief Public Information Officer of Supreme Court while denying to provide any details said the information was not with or held by Registry of Supreme Court of India.

 

In a separate request, Agarwal asked from Department of Personnel and training if judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are covered under the RTI ACT.

 

On not getting a satisfactory reply, Agrawal pleaded before the CIC to instruct the authorities to provide him accurate information. The matter will also be heard on the same day.

 

CIC to decide if details of judges' assets covered under RTI-India-The Times of India

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sidmis

No rules for judges to declare assets:CIC

as reported in Yahoo! News, Oct 16 08

 

THE SUPREME Court and High Courts have no clear rules that make it mandatory for judges and their families to declare the details of their wealth, the Central Information Commission (CIC) said on Wednesday.

 

Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said unlike the MPs and government officials, who are bound by rules to declare their assets, the commission is yet to receive from the judiciary the procedure being to be followed by judges.

 

"This issue has been before us for some time now. We are yet to find out the exact procedure being followed by the judiciary in ascertaining the declaration of assets by the judges," Habibullah told Hindustan Times.

 

"The details put forward before us till now show there are no clearly defined rules being followed, since there are none. The CIC can order that available information be furnished by institutions, but we can't create information," the CIC said.

 

The CIC has been grappling with the issue of applicability of the Right to Information Act to the judiciary since more than a year. The judiciary has been opposed to opening itself to public scrutiny.

 

Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan, has made it clear that Supreme Court judges submit their wealth details to him, but these won't be made public. Last month, the CJI had also asked the High Courts to follow the same procedure, but did not make it clear whether these should be made public.

 

Documents show that Supreme Court officials wanted they decide all RTI matters related to judiciary. "No appeal or any other proceedings shall lie against the order passed by the Chief Justice of India or his nominee.

 

Any appeal arising out of the order passed by an officer of the court inferior to the Registrar General, shall be before the Registrar General," the Supreme Court said in a letter to the CIC. The government has supported the judiciary's stand on implementation of the RTI Act. The law ministry said the judiciary should decide the extent to which the Act should be applicable to the courts.

 

"The judiciary is not an extension of the government and no directions can be issued from us on the administrative functioning of the judiciary. It is for them to decide the extent to which the RTI Act should be applicable," Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj said.

 

The issue would once again come up before the CIC on October 20. It will hear appeals filed by a Delhi resident, Subhash Chandra Aggarwal, seeking information whether the CJI is covered under the Right to Information Act and whether it is mandatory for judges to declare assets.

 

No rules for judges to declare assets:CIC - Yahoo! India News

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sidmis

CJI wants tainted judges weeded out

as reported by Rakesh Bhatnagar. New Delhi, DNA

Calls for offering them voluntary retirement

 

The chief justice of India KG Balakrishnan has sent letters to chief justices of all high courts asking them to get rid of tainted lower court judges by offering them voluntary retirement.

 

Much before the process for judging the judges takes concrete shape, the CJI and the Central Information Commission, the statutory body enabling citizens to secure vital information about people in power or in governance, have stepped in to bring more transparency in the judicial system.

 

The CJI's communiqué, dispatched on Tuesday, is in the backdrop of the multi-crore scam Uttar Pradesh provident fund scam allegedly involving 34 judges and the cash-by-courier scam that rocked the Punjab and Haryana high court.

 

Justice Balakrishnan has said such a measure could be taken after reviewing the service records of judicial officers when they attain the age of 50 and 55 years with a view to weeding out those with doubtful integrity.

 

The letter urges CJs to take appropriate steps to remove judges of subordinate courts who are found "indolent, infirm or with doubtful integrity, reputation and utility''. "Premature retirement, as you know is not a stigma and no civil consequences will follow such retirement," says the CJI.

 

Earlier, the CJI had allowed the CBI to interrogate judges in the treasury scam and in the cash-by-courier scam. Around the same time, he also recommended to the Prime Minister impeachment proceedings against Calcutta HC judge Soumitra Sen for alleged financial misconduct.

 

In a related development, the Central Information Commission has sought feedback from the public and organisations on whether details of assets owned by SC and HC judges is covered under the Right to Information Act, or if they can be disclosed.

 

The CIC has asked respondents to give their written submissions on or before October 17. The matter will be heard in two separate full bench hearings of the Central Information Commission on October 20.

 

It will hear an RTI plea by Subhash Agarwal who had sought information about a resolution passed by a full-court meeting of Supreme Court judges in 1997 on declaration of assets by judges.

 

The 16-point charter adopted by all the judges stipulates "every judge to make a declaration of all assets in the form of real estate or investments held in their name or their spouse and any other person dependent on them to the Chief Justice."

 

Agarwal has sought to know if such a declaration of assets had ever been filed by the judges.

 

The chief public information officer of the Supreme Court said the information was not with the Registry of Supreme Court of India. In a separate request, Agarwal also wanted to know if Supreme Court and HC judges are covered under the RTI Act.

 

On not getting a satisfactory reply, Agrawal pleaded before the CIC to instruct the authorities to provide him accurate information.

 

© Copyright Permission www.3dsyndication.com

 

DNA E-Paper - Daily News & Analysis -Mumbai,Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, India

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sidmis

Crucial CIC hearing on judicial transparency issues tomorrow

as reported in The Hindu, October 19, 2008

 

New Delhi (PTI): The demand for transparency in judiciary has reached the corridors of Central Information Commission as three separate cases related to holiday expenses by judges, their assets and applicability of RTI while seeking such details, will come up for hearing tomorrow.

 

The tricky questions, which can have a bearing on public access to issues related to judicial transparency, will be heard separately in a single bench and two full bench hearings of the Commission.

 

The questions are linked to RTI pleas of Subhash Agrawal who had sought information about the number of issues pertaining to judicial transparency.

 

In one of his applications, he sought information regarding assets disclosure by sitting judges before the Chief Justice of India and Chief Justices of High Courts.

 

The full-court meeting of Supreme Court judges in 1997 had made it compulsory for "every judge to make a declaration of all assets in the form of real estate or investments held in their name or their spouse and any other person dependent on them to the Chief Justice."

 

Agrawal wanted to know if such a declaration of assets had ever been filed by judges of the Supreme Court before Chief Justice of India and High Court judges before Chief Justices of respective states.

 

The Chief Public Information Officer of Supreme Court while refusing to provide any details said the information was not with or held by Registry of Supreme Court of India.

 

In a separate request, Agrawal asked from Department of Personnel and training if judges of Supreme Court and High Courts are covered under the RTI ACT.

 

Not getting a satisfactory reply, Agrawal pleaded before the CIC to instruct the authorities to provide him accurate information.

 

The Hindu News Update Service

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karira

As reported in thehindu.com on 05 November 2008:

The Hindu News Update Service

 

Can't reveal details of judges' assets under RTI, SC tells CIC

 

 

 

New Delhi (PTI): The question whether assets of judges come under the purview RTI Act continues to hang fire as Supreme Court on wednesday claimed before the CIC that declaration of assets by the Judges before Chief Justice was "voluntary" as per the resolution adopted by Full Bench of Supreme Court in 1997 and cannot be accessed by public under the Act.

 

Additional Solicitor General Amrendra Saran, representing the apex court, argued before full bench of Central Information Commission that declaration of assets as adapted by the Full Court resolution was an "in-house" voluntary agreement between the judges.

 

He maintained that revealing any details about it would amount to "breach of confidentiality" as declarations were made to the Chief Justice in his personal capacity.

 

The CIC, however, resereved its decision on the issue. But during the hearing the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah asked Saran whether declarations are held by the office of Chief Justice or not? He also asked whether a CJI passes this information to his successor or not.

 

Information Commissioner M M Ansari also wanted to know how can a Full Court meeting attended by all 22 judges be termed as voluntary. "Are you saying it is not an official document of the Supreme Court?" asked Ansari.

 

Saran said that he was unaware about the practices being followed by the CJI in keeping and forwarding the applications in this regard.

 

Senior Lawyer Prashant Bhushan representing Agrawal argued that mere stamping of a document as confidential cannot make it inaccessible as it does not come under the exemption clauses under the RTI Act. He asserted that the resolution was an official document which was given under RTI to the applicant.

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karira

As reported by Nagender Sharma in Hindustan Times on 06 November 2008:

HindustanTimes ePaper

 

07_11_2008_016_011.jpg

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karira

As reported by Manoj Mitta of TNN in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 07 January 2009:

CJI not exempt from RTI purview, CIC tells SC-India-The Times of India

 

CJI not exempt from RTI purview, CIC tells SC

 

NEW DELHI: In a boost to judicial accountability, the Central Information Commission (CIC) on Tuesday rejected the Supreme Court’s claim that the

Chief Justice of India was beyond the purview of RTI. Accordingly, CIC directed SC to make public the information available with CJI as to whether its judges had been, in terms of a 1997 resolution, regularly filing declarations of their assets.

 

The decision taken by a three-member bench of CIC headed by Wajahat Habibullah contradicts CJI KG Balakrishnan’s public statement that being a Constitution office holder, he was exempt from RTI. This is also contrary to the file notings made by Justice Balakrishnan, reported first in TOI, approving SC’s evasive reply in November 2007 that the information relating to declaration of assets by judges was “not held by or under the control of” its registry and therefore could not be furnished by its information officer under RTI.

 

Upholding an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, CIC rebuffed SC’s attempt to withhold information on the ground that the registry, which came under RTI, was distinct from the CJI’s office, which was the custodian of the declarations of assets made by SC judges.

 

Ruling that the institution and its head could not be two distinct public authorities, CIC said that the information available with the CJI must be “deemed” to be available with Supreme Court.

 

“If any information is available with one section of the department, it shall be deemed to available with the public authority as one single entity.”

 

Since the appellant did not seek copies of the declarations, CIC disallowed SC’s alternative contention that the information could not be disclosed as it attracted exemption under Section 8(1)(e) as the declarations had been received by CJI in a “fiduciary relationship” or Section 8(1)(j) as it was “personal information” which had “no relationship to any public activity or interest.” The bench consisting of Wajahat Habibullah, A N Tiwari and M M Ansari directed SC’s information officer to disclose within 10 days to Agrawal whether its judges had been filing declarations of assets in compliance with the resolution adopted by the entire bench of the apex court in 1997.

 

Though the judiciary had informally maintained that judges had been filing declarations of assets, it was reluctant to say anything on the subject under RTI lest it opened a floodgate of queries related to judicial probity. The tacit, if self-serving, suggestion was RTI could not be allowed to compromise judicial independence.

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taurus

It has taken eight months to come to this stage. It is anybody's guess, how much more time it will take for the actual info to be made available, if ever it is made available!

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colnrkurup

Enough time to clense the stable

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karira

The full order of the CIC is attached to this post.

 

It is interesting to note, that in its order, the CIC has mainly relied on the definition of word "authority" (as part of "public authority") and come to the conclusion that the information held by the Chief Justice can also be with the Supreme coiurt - information held by one department will be deemed to be available with the Public Authority.

FB-06012009-01.pdf

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karira

As reported by Rakesh Bhatnagar in dnaindia.com on 12 January 2009:

DNA: India: Can RTI help you know judges' assets?

Can RTI help you know judges' assets?

 

New Delhi: There seems to be a prolonged litigation on the people's right to know about the assets of Supreme Court (SC) and high court judges under the Right to Information Act.

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC) last month directed the SC's "competent authority", the chief justice, to provide information about judges assets to an applicant. CJI KG Balakrishnan said information about judges' assets is personally kept with the chief justice of India and (high court) chief justices.

 

The public will have a right to know these details if there is a legislative mandate. But at present there is no such legislation.

 

He also said that information relating to appointments or declaration of assets is not shared with the court registry, to maintain confidentiality. Thus, the CJI indicated, the CIC order would be challenged.

 

In its order, the CIC held that "The institution and its head cannot be two distinct public authorities. They are one and the same. Information, therefore, available with the CJI must be deemed to be available with the SC. The registrar, who is only a part of the SC, cannot be categorised as a public authority independent [of] and distinct from the SC itself.

 

A parliamentary standing committee on personnel, law and justice headed by EM Sudarsana Natchiappanan says, "Except the judicial decision making, all other activities of administration and the persons included in it (judiciary) are subject to RTI Act." A judges' resolution in 1997 mandates judges to file declaration of their assets to CJI.

 

Former CJI JS Verma says the SC's registry is very much a part of CJI's office. "This is clear from Article 146, which places the SC registry under the responsibility of CJI." He also differs from Balakrishnan's claim that CJI is beyond the RTI's reach. "Every authority is subject to accountability in some form or the other. And all that RTI does is to operationalise a fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1) (a)".

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Atul Patankar

As reportef by Dhananjay Mahapatra of TNN on January 17, 2008

 

NEW DELHI: Worried over the fallout of a recent Central Information Commission (CIC) order on making the assets of judges public, the Supreme court registrar on Friday challenged it before the Delhi high court saying that this information, not being in public domain, could not be given to RTI applicants.

 

The high court is the appellate authority for challenging CIC's decisions — a fact that led to this unusual situation of the apex court moving a lower court over a dispute.

 

The apex court said information relating to declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was not a mandatory exercise under law, but driven by an informal resolution of May 7, 1997 — implying that information on judges' assets did not come under RTI's purview.

 

The petitioner added said the CIC had committed an error by equating the Supreme Court and the CJI as one and the same authority whereas the CJI's position was quite distinct from that of the Supreme Court in terms of the RTI Act.

 

"CJI is not a public authority, as defined under the RTI Act, and therefore, is not required to designate a central public information officer (central PIO) for it, or to supply information held or maintained by it," the appeal stated.

 

The CIC had on January 6 only directed the central PIO of the SC to furnish information as to whether any declaration of assets had been filed by SC judges or not.

 

But even this apparently innocuous order has led the Supreme Court to challenge the CIC order before the HC, saying that a public authority was bound to give information if these were available in public domain.

 

The SC registrar added that details of judges' assets was not information which was held by or under control of a public authority, since it was voluntarily furnished to the CJI, who himself could not be included in the definition of "public authority".

 

"There is nothing under the Constitution of India or under any other law which requires judges of the Supreme Court to declare their assets to the Chief Justice of India," said the petition, which was drafted by advocate Devdatt Kamath and settled by Solicitor General G E Vahanvati.

 

Quoting section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act which imposed a ban on furnishing of personal information, the SC Registrar said any query relating to assets of judges voluntarily declared before the CJI squarely fell within the meaning of Section 8(1)(j).

 

Moreover, "the office of the Chief Justice of India is a distinct office. It performs certain constitutional functions and cannot be equated with or said to be part of the registry of the Supreme Court, which holds information relating to other matters of the Supreme Court under the RTI Act."

 

Source : SC moves HC against CIC order on judges' assets-India-The Times of India

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Atul Patankar

As reported at newstrackindia.com on January, 17 2009

 

Central Information Commission and Chief Justice of India disagree

New Delhi, Jan 17(ANI): The Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan, is in disagreement with the Central Information Commission's (CIC) order on making assets of its judges available to the public and is not relenting on his stand that judges are not bound to disclose their wealth.

He is taking the stand that even when the judges submit their declarations to the Chief Justice about their wealth, they do so on the basis of confidence and the submissions were not public documents.

The CIC had on January 6 had directed the central PIO of the SC to furnish information as to whether any declaration of assets had been filed by SC judges or not.

Justice Balakrishnan has pointed out that Supreme Court does come under the purview of the RTI Act and for this purpose an information officer has been appointed. But the information submitted to the Chief Justice by the judges on the basis of confidence were not public documents, and the Act does not bind him to disclose the information with him.

Under the Indian Constitution the Supreme Court has the final say on the interpretation of any law. (ANI)

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ganpat1956

Atul, please provide the link also if you have reproduced from another source.

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umeshvarmap

Dear Friends,

 

The expected but unwelcome act has happened, Supreme Court Chief Justice has passed his personal verdict on a matter pending in the Delhi High Court. The pending judgment is a foregone conclusion now.

 

We need to plan something against it.

 

Cordially,

 

Umesh Varma

 

------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- -

 

http://www.rediff. com/money/ 2009/jan/ 17judges- not-bound- to-disclose- their-wealth- chief-justice. htm

Judges not bound to disclose their wealth: Chief Justice

January 17, 2009 14:53 IST

 

With Supreme Court moving an appeal in the Delhi high court against the CIC order on making assets of its judges public, the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has made it clear that the judges 'are not bound to disclose' their wealth.

 

"There is no statute or law which insists that the judges or the superior courts should submit declaration of their assets. Even then, our judges are submitting the declaration of assets to the Chief Justice," the CJI said.

 

 

His remarks in an interview to PTI come close on the heels of the Supreme Court Registry taking the unprecedented step of moving the high court, challenging the January 6 decision of the Central Information Commission.

 

 

The CIC had asked the Central Public Information Officer of the apex court to furnish information within 10 days as to whether any declaration of assets has been filed by the judges of the Supreme Court or not.

 

 

Justice Balakrishnan said he was going by the Resolution passed by the Supreme Court on May 7, 1997 which required judges of the apex court to make a declaration of their assets to the CJI.

 

 

"It is not a public document," he said, adding, that the declaration given by his colleagues was 'based on confidence'.

 

 

"So it is not proper for me to disclose it. If it is (made) statutory, suppose if there is any Parliamentary enactment that judges should declare their assets and should give it to Chief Justice, then it is a public document," he said.

 

 

The CJI went on to emphasise that 'even then, under the RTI Act, they are not bound to disclose it. Under the RTI act, its a private document and personal documents are not to be revealed under the RTI act. Still there is protection.'

 

 

In his petition before the CIC, RTI applicant S C Aggarwal had challenged the denial of such information by the Supreme Court CPIO, saying that declaration relating to the assets of the judges under an in-house mechanism are 'confidential' .

 

 

Any disclosure of these declarations would be breach of trust fiduciary relationship.

 

Don't you think that disclosure of assets by judges would set up a moral standard? the CJI was asked. He responded by saying that any judge wanting to declare could do so as no law prohibited it.

 

 

The CIC had held that the information cannot be categorised as personal information available with the Chief Justices in their personal category as it is available for perusal and inspection to every succeeding CJI.

 

 

It also concluded that the institution and its head can't be considered to be two distinct public authorities and information available with the CJI must be 'deemed' to be available with the Supreme Court.

 

 

Disagreeing with the CIC's finding, the CJI contended that information on the judicial or official side can be accessed and would be given while information with the CJI has to be treated on a different footing.

 

 

"Now the orders (of CIC) says that any information with the Chief Justice is bound to be known by the Registrar General. But I do not share many of my details with the Registrar, specially appointment of judges and other matters not related to the Registrar," the CJI said.

 

 

Such information is held 'exclusively' by the Chief Justice, a view not accepted by the CIC, he said.

 

 

The CJI acknowledged that Supreme Court does come under the purview of the RTI Act and for this purpose an information officer has been appointed.

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colnrkurup

The enire episode is unfortunate. In Malayalam there is a saying that "Only those having something in their purse need be scared of his travel route " - indirectly, it means that why should someone be scared of disclosure if they have nothing to hide ? Does our Hon'ble CJI doubt that some of the members of his 'palton' might be having skeletons in their cupboard ? Being afraid of the Contempt of Court Acts, WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA in any case are scared to open their mouth irrespective of the whatever the Architects of our Constitution has guarenteed or bestowed on them. Now our Hon'ble CJI does not want the RTI Act to harmonise the conflicting interests if at all any while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideals etc., etc., envisaged in the preamble of the RTI Act

 

The RTI Act says that the public authority means any authority or body or institution of self-government establised or constituted by or under Constitution.

 

Article 124 of our Constitution lays down that :- Establishment and constitution of Supreme Court.- (1) There shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India and, until Parliament by law prescribes a larger number, of not more than seven 88 other Judges.(2) Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years:

 

Article 51A of the Constitution lays down that -. Fundamental Duties - It shall be the duty of every citizens ofIndia-(a) to abide by the Constitution etc etc.

 

This leave no doubt on "unpath" WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIAT that every cityzen and everything established under the Constitution is under the Constitution. Who is paying for the establishment of the Hon'ble CJI ? WE THE OPEPLE. Who gave them the power to establish any authority over WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA ? The Constitution. If the CJI is not under Constitution, he is under whom ? He cannot say that His Excellency the President of India is not above him ? When the President himself is under the Constitution how can someone under the President cannot be under the Constituion?

 

WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA are confuced. Will the Hon'ble CJI and our Hon'ble Supreme Court make an effort to educate the "unpath' WE THE P[EOPLE OF INDIA without leading them to further confusion ? May Almighty God Help them in the noble task .

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Atul Patankar

As reported at indianexpress.com on January 19,2008

Land-ing trouble

Gavel, gown and tie — those we know about. But what else do our Supreme Court judges own? The story begins in 1997, where an informal resolution of the Supreme Court required judges to declare their assets, in private, to the chief justice. Recently, the Central Information Commission held that under the Right to Information Act these private declarations of judges were not so private any more. They were open to public scrutiny. The current Supreme Court chief justice disagreed, and in an unprecedented step the Supreme Court registrar filed an application before a lower court — the high court is the sole appellate authority under the RTI Act — to quash the CIC order.

 

But the story has come full circle. The very chief justice who passed the informal resolution in 1997 — former Chief Justice J.S. Verma — has indicated that he thinks the assets of Supreme Court judges are very much in the public domain; there is no constitutional bar to disclosing this. Justice Verma is known for his legal acumen as well as unimpeachable integrity. As is the current Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, who decisively acted against allegations of corruption, even to the extent of initiating inquires and recommending impeachment. Which is why his decision to oppose the public declaration of assets has puzzled commentators.

 

SOurce : Land-ing trouble

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karira

A Times View in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 20 Janaury 2009:

TIMES VIEW | Judges should disclose assets -Editorial-Opinion-The Times of India

 

TIMES VIEW | Judges should disclose assets

 

In a strange turn of events, the Supreme Court has moved Delhi high court against a recent Central Information Commission (CIC) order on making assets of judges public. The apex court has challenged the order arguing that the information, which isn't in the public domain, cannot be given to applicants under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

This is not a new controversy. An earlier RTI application enquiring whether Supreme Court judges were making a periodic declaration of their assets to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) a practice that was adopted in 1997 was returned by the court saying it had no information on this matter. A few days later, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said that his office was not bound by RTI since he was a constitutional authority. In its petition to Delhi high court, the apex court has said that declaration of assets by judges to the CJI is governed by an informal resolution and wasn't mandatory under law It also reiterated that the CJI was not a public authority under the RTI Act.

 

The response of the apex court is surprising since the CIC had merely asked whether Supreme Court judges were declaring their assets or not. If all government offices as well as the country's elected representatives are subject to RTI, there is no reason why the judiciary should be an exception. If there has to be an exception for RTI, it should only be for information that affects national security.

 

The Supreme Court must be the most accountable institution in any democracy because of its role as a watchdog. Indeed, judges must be held to standards that are higher than other government officials. The apex court should be the first to embrace the ethics of transparency and voluntarily disclose assets of judges. There has been considerable controversy in recent times on corruption in the judiciary. It would be in the judiciary's interest to quell such talk by disclosing assets of judges.

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karira

A Counterview by Naomi D'souza in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 20 Janaury 2009:

COUNTERVIEW | SC judges are above the fray-Editorial-Opinion-The Times of India

 

COUNTERVIEW | SC judges are above the fray

 

In a well-meaning but short-sighted move, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has declared that Supreme Court judges must disclose their assets under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. SC judges already provide the Chief Justice of India with a list of assets. As the CJI, Justice Balakrishnan, has already pointed out, there is no statute or law that insists that judges must disclose their assets. The document that they give to the CJI is given in trust, which Balakrishnan would be betraying if he were to make the document public.

 

Forcing judges to disclose details of their assets may have unintended consequences. While the measure would satisfy those who believe that the judiciary is tainted by corruption, the amount of information about the judges that will then become available in the public sphere is dangerous. Not only could some elements use the information to pressure certain judges into issuing favourable verdicts, it could also result in their personal safety being compromised. Far from checking judicial corruption, revealing assets could have just the opposite effect.

 

The judiciary in India is one of the few public institutions that people still trust, and with good reason. The Supreme Court, in particular, has emerged in the recent past as a defender of civil rights and has increasingly taken on an activist role. SC judges have proven themselves to be worthy of their office. They should not have to constantly prove themselves over and over again. Demanding a declaration of assets amounts to an expression of mistrust in the SC and its judges despite the stellar job they have been doing over the years.

 

If judges want to disclose their wealth under the RTI, they are free to do so. However, compelling them to make this information available to the public is unfair and will not have the desired result. It is best to have faith in these sentinels of the law and trust them to do their jobs without bias or influence.

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As reported in deccanherald.com on 20 Janaury 2009:

Deccan Herald - HC relief for SC judges in assets case

 

HC relief for SC judges in assets case

 

The Delhi High Court on Monday stayed an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which directed the Supreme Court information officer to reveal the details regarding the declaration of wealth by the apex court judges under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

 

 

In an interim order, Justice S Ravinder Bhat said the execution of the CIC order was stayed till the final disposal of the petition filed by the SC Registry. The petition said the CIC ruling was bad in law and against the provisions of the RTI Act as the judges were holding constitutional posts.

 

In 1997, a full bench of the SC, chaired by the then Chief Justice J S Verma, had passed a resolution making it mandatory for the judges to regularly declare their assets and also those of their family members.

 

However, the advocate appearing for the SC before the CIC claimed that it was an informal resolution. “If any information was provided under the RTI Act on the basis of this resolution, it would lead to a breach of confidentiality,’’ he had said.

 

Now it is a convention among the SC judges to submit the list of their assets to the Court registry, which is not subject to public scrutiny. However, a controversy arose as there was ambiguity in the RTI Act on the inclusion of apex court judges in its purview. Meanwhile, Justice Verma in a recent interview said that it was obligatory for the apex court to follow the resolution as it was passed by a full-bench.

 

On January 6, a three-member bench of the CIC headed by Wajahat Habibullah said that the CJI and the SC judges were bound to reveal their assets to the public. “If any information is available with one section of the department, it shall be deemed to have been available with the public authority as one single entity,” the order said. In a note, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said the information relating to declaration of assets by judges was “not held by or under the control of” its registry and therefore could not be furnished by its information officer under the RTI Act.

 

But, upholding an appeal filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, the CIC rebuffed the SC attempt to withhold information on the ground that the registry, which came under the RTI Act, was distinct from the CJI’s office, which was the custodian of the declaration of assets made by the judges.

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