Supreme Court and High Court judges should declare their families’ wealth every year and the document containing these details be made public by respective courts to make the judiciary transparent and accountable, a parliamentary committee has recommended.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice has also asked the central government to review the procedure for appointment of judges in higher judiciary, as the present Supreme Court judges committee (collegium) based system had led to numerous complaints.
In its recommendations on the Judges Inquiry Bill 2006, which
was introduced in parliament in December last year, the Standing Committee has said that the judges should be asked to furnish all details of the properties held by them and their families.
“Supreme Court and High Court judges would have to give intimation of their assets and liabilities along with those of their wives and unmarried children to the respective chief justices of their courts every year. These property declarations should then be made public documents”, Standing Committee chairman, E. M. Sudarsana Natchiappan told Hindustan Times.
He said the recommendation was based on the basis of a suggestion made to the parliamentary committee by former Chief Justice of India R.S. Pathak, who also headed the International Court of Justice, Hague.
“In wake of increasing complaints against the members of judiciary in recent years, the committee members felt making judges’ wealth public regularly would help in introducing a transparent and accountable judiciary,” Natchiappan said.
Asking the Centre to address the issue of appointments of judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts, though it has not been mentioned in the Judges Inquiry Bill, the Standing Committee report says: “The appointments could be entrusted to a wider body other than the collegium, with representation both from the judiciary and the executive. The committee is of the considered opinion that the proposed Empowered Committee could do the initial screening and then refer the names to the National Judicial Council for final recommendations.”
Asked about the committee’s view on the ambiguity in the country’s laws regarding initiation of a probe against former judges, Natchiappan said, “Speedy implementation of the Standing Committee’s recommendations could help in ending this uncertainty on former judges, including former CJI YK Sabharwal.”