Chief justice wants high court judges to declare assets

August 20th, 2008 - 10:36 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) Under mounting pressure for more probity and transparency in the judiciary, the chief justice of India (CJI) has written to all high courts across the country to consider adopting the apex court judges’ practice of declaring their assets.”The CJI (K.G. Balakrishnan) has written to chief justices of all high courts to consider adopting the apex court judges’ practice of declaring their assets at the time of their appointment and every year subsequently,” a Supreme Court official, who did not want to be identified, told IANS.

Supreme Court judges have been declaring their assets since 1997 to the CJI at the time of their appointment as an apex court judge and thereafter every year as per a resolution passed by the apex court on May 7, 1997.

“The high court judges may consider adopting a similar resolution in case it does not have a system of judges declaring their assets soon after the assumption of office and regularly updating the declaration made by them,” said Balakrishnan in his letter to high court chief justices.

The CJI wrote: “It is essential for an independent, strong and respected judiciary and indispensable for impartial administration of justice.”

In his letter, Balakrishnan also called upon the high court judges to adopt what is known as “restatement of values of judicial life” adopted by the apex court in another resolution earlier.

The CJI described the “restatement of values of judicial life” as “the pre-existing and universally accepted norms, guidelines and conventions” governing judicial conduct and behaviour.

The CJI has sought declaration of assets by high court judges in the face of mounting pressure upon the Indian judiciary to ensure greater probity, transparency and purity in judicial conduct.

Responding to a question on declaration of judges’ assets during a recent conference of apex court judges, Balakrishnan had said: “At the time of their appointment, every Supreme Court judge has to declare his assets. Thereafter, if any property is purchased, he has to give the information to me in a sealed cover.

“This must be the case with high court judges (who would furnish the information to the chief justice of the high court concerned).”

The Bar Association of India (BAI) also wants declaration of assets by judges, saying that it would enhance their dignity greatly.

“There are statutory provisions in the US apex court on disclosure of assets by judges… There is an urgent need that such provision should be implemented in India, too,” the BAI had said recently.

Former chief justices of India J.S. Verma and V.N. Khare too had supported the idea of declaration of assets by high court judges.

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