Breaking its silence on the issue of assets declaration by judges, the government said on Saturday that the wealth details of judges should be made public.
Law minister HR Bhardwaj said the government agreed with the demands for greater transparency in the internal functioning of the judiciary, but at the same time “respects and upholds” its independence.
“There is nothing unusual about the demands for greater transparency. When judges have made it mandatory for candidates contesting elections to declare assets, then it is only fair for them also to do it,” Bhardwaj told HT. “MPs declare their assets twice: first as a candidate in the form of an affidavit before the Election Commission, and then to the presiding officer of House to which they are elected. Others can do it once.” Asked why the judiciary was still undecided on this basic principle of accountability in public life, Bhardwaj said: “I’ve no control over the judiciary. It is for them to decide but I feel it is high time that they listen to the growing public demands to be more transparent.”
He said the government did not agree with the judiciary on a number of important issues such as the appointments of judges and its failure to develop a permanent mechanism to deal with complaints against judges, but it was for the chief justice of India to take steps in this regard.