Judges’ assets: SC dismisses own resolution as ‘moral act’

Almost 13 years after a Full Court of the SC resolved to declare their assets to the Chief Justice of India,the apex court has dismissed the pro-active measure as a.....

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi | Published:February 27, 2009 11:55 pm

Almost 13 years after a Full Court of the SC resolved to declare their assets to the Chief Justice of India,the apex court has dismissed the pro-active measure as a “moral act” with “no force of law”.

The Supreme Court judges had unanimously agreed on May 7,1997 that all apex court judges should pass on information of their private assets to the Chief Justice of India at the time of their joining the apex court and every year thereafter.

“The resolution is not supported by any statute and does not lay down any consequences for non-compliance,” the Supreme Court stated in its submission before the Delhi High Court recently. The case will come up for hearing on Friday.

Information on judges’ assets is out of bounds for applicants under the Right to Information Act since the Court is not “required” to entertain such a declaration from the judges as per law,the Supreme Court argued.

The court categorised the passing of such resolutions as an “in-house procedure developed within the judiciary,which cannot be a subject matter of disclosure”.

“Such a procedure has only moral authority and is not done in exercise of any law,” the court said.

The Supreme Court said that judges did not declare their assets to the Chief Justice of India as part of their public duties,but as a voluntary act outside the purview of the RTI. “The RTI Act is not applicable to private and personal actions by public functionaries which are done without any sanction of law,” the Registry argued.

The court clarified that judges were not opposed to bringing information on their assets into the public domain,provided there were “proper safeguards,checks and balances to prevent misuse of the information made available”.

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