Nearly four weeks after Supreme Court judges finally agreed to declare their assets under mounting public pressure, a majority of the high courts across the country are still silent on the issue.
So far, judges in only eight of the 21 high courts have come forward to announce their decision to make their wealth details public, since the surprise and sudden announcement by the Supreme Court judges on August 26.
Judges in the high courts of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bombay, Kerala, Madras and Sikkim have passed resolutions to declare their assets.
But judges of Allahabad, Andhra Pradesh, Calcutta, Guwahati, Orissa, Patna, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat high courts are yet to break their silence on the issue.
“There was unanimity in the conference of chief justices, where the issue was informally discussed last month, that judges’ assets should be made public. The sudden disclosures of assets by two high court judges soon thereafter led to a complete change in the situation and all high courts should have done it by now,” said a high court chief justice, on condition of anonymity.
An official of the Allahabad High Court, however, said the judges were waiting for the assets details of Supreme Court judges to be put on the apex court’s website.
“There is no delay or hesitation. It is only a matter of deciding on which format (of disclosure) to follow,” he said.
Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan has already made it clear that the high courts are free to decide on their own on this issue.
“High court judges take their own decisions. They are not under my administrative control. Even though we (Supreme Court) have appellate jurisdiction, the administrative control is with the chief justices of the respective high courts,” the CJI told reporters on August 29.
The CJI had said it would take a “month or more” for the assets of Supreme Courts judges to be posted on the court’s website, “since some judges wanted their details to be updated.”
There has been no word from the Supreme Court on the development since then. The top court is also yet to decide on challenging the Delhi High Court verdict declaring that the CJI was covered under the Right to Information Act.