The Supreme Court on Wednesday faced searching questions from the Delhi High Court for maintaining the stand that the resolution passed by the judges of the top judiciary for declaration of assets was not binding.
“If the resolution (of assets declaration) is not binding,then the resolution passed to maintain judicial values in court proceedings can also be said to be non-binding and a judge,against whom an in-house inquiry is conducted in case of deviation,can object to it,” a bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justice S Muralidhar said.
The Court made the remarks when Attorney General Goolam E Vahanwati,appearing for the apex court,said the resolution passed by Supreme Court judges in 1997 to declare their assets to the CJI was voluntary in nature and it was not binding.
The bench was hearing an appeal filed by the apex court against the verdict of single bench of the High Court which had held that office of the Chief Justice of India comes within the purview of Right to Information Act and details of judges assets should be revealed.
After hearing a brief argument by Vahanwati,the Court admitted an appeal by the apex court and constituted a special three-member bench to decide the controversial issue and fixed November 12 and 13 for deciding the appeal.
The court did not pass a stay order on the single judge bench verdict of September 2 after the Supreme Court did not press for it.
The High Court had in its September 2 verdict on the controversial issue held that the CJI was a public authority and his office came within the purview of the transparency law.
The judgement was contrary to the stand taken by CJI K G Balakrishnan who had consistently been maintaining that his office is beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act.
Opposing the plea of the Supreme Court,advocate Prashant Bhushan,appearing for the RTI applicant seeking information on assets,said such appeals would lead to disrepute to the system.
The AG,however,objected and said “we are capable of taking care of our system and we can take care of the consequences of filing appeal in this matter.”
The apex court had approached the High Court alleging the judgement of the single judge bench was “bad in law” and “deserves to be set aside”.
Pointing out 58 “errors” in the 71-page verdict of the single bench,the appeal filed by the Supreme Court Registry said “the analysis of the single judge is essentially wrong and the conclusions reached by him are unjustified in law and Constitutional theory.”