Sticking to its guns, the Supreme Court on Tuesday submitted before Delhi High Court that declaration of assets by judges without having adequate safeguards in place could have “serious consequences”.
Appearing for the Supreme Court, Solicitor General G.E. Vahanavati argued even if it was agreed that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) was a public authority under the Right To Information Act, information on judges’ assets was “not in public domain”.
He expressed the apprehension that “soon demands will be made to disclose confidential notes exchanged between the judges of a division bench or draft judgment copies”.
Vahanavati said the judges were not averse to declaring their assets, but there had to be a law in place with proper checks and balances to prevent the misuse of the information.
Justice Ravindra Bhat was hearing an appeal filed by Supreme Court against an order by the Central Information Commission, asking it to provide an RTI applicant with information on the number of judges who had declared their assets. The information was in possession of only the CJI. Responding to Vahanavati’s submissions, RTI applicant S.C. Agarwal’s counsel Prashant Bhushan said, “Such notes between judges and draft judgment copies, too, stand on the same footing.” But Justice Bhat said since the judiciary’s manner of working was different from the government’s, it could not be laid bare for the public.