Supreme Court judges ready to declare assets, but with riders

March 17th, 2009 - 9:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) Judges of the Supreme Court are not opposed to declaring their assets but the information should not be misused and should be kept out of the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI) act, Additional Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati told the Delhi High Court Tuesday.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by the apex court challenging a Central Information Commission (CIC) order directing that the assets of the judges be made public.

Vahanvati argued the matter before Justice S. Ravinder Bhat, who slated the matter for further arguments March 24.

Vahanvati said: “Declaration of assets by judges to the CJI are personal information which cannot be revealed under the present RTI and the same should be amended accordingly.”

He, however, had made it clear that the judges are not opposed to declaring their assets but there is no legal obligation to do so.

“It is submitted that the information which is sought (pertaining to judges assets) is purely and simply personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity,” he said.

The voluntary declaration given by the judges cannot be said to be information in public domain, he added.

The seven-page affidavit was filed in response to a reply of an RTI applicant who said that all information given to the CJI comes within the public domain and he cannot be denied such information.

The apex court had said that the resolution passed by its judges pertaining to declaration of assets is not binding by law.

“The said resolution dated May 7, 1997, does not have force of law. In these circumstances, the RTI applicant has no right to access information as such information is not held by any public authority under any law,” the affidavit said.

“It is submitted that the voluntary declaration made are outside the purview of the RTI Act.

The Delhi High Court had Jan 19 stayed the order of the CIC that the office of the CJI comes within the ambit of the RTI Act and information given to the chief justice has to be revealed to the RTI applicant.

The petition was filed by the chief public information officer of the Supreme Court challenging the Jan 6 order of the CIC.

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