Opposing the Chief Justice of India in a newspaper article, a Karnataka High Court judge has said that the CJI cannot speak on behalf of the judiciary on the subject of 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.
The article by Justice DV Shylendra Kumar shows that there is ideological divide over the declaration of assets in the judiciary.
Mentioning CJI KG Balakrishnan’s remarks that judges could face harassment if their assets are 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.”
It may be mentioned that the government had to withdraw the Bill on Judges’ Assets in the last session of Parliament in the wake of protest from the Opposition against the provision that judge’s assets would be beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act.
In his article, Justice Kumar contented that it was the Supreme Court itself that pressed for RTI and said that he was then 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.