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SC judges may declare assets

Faced with increasing pressure to declare their assets, a view is emerging among the Supreme Court judges that it is high time they do it on their own. Satya Prakash and Nagendar Sharma report.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2009 00:22 IST

Faced with increasing pressure to declare their assets, a view is emerging among the Supreme Court judges that it is high time they do it on their own without waiting for the final decision of the Delhi High Court on the issue.

A section of the Supreme Court judges does not want the raging debate on the contentious issue to dent the image of the judiciary, which is already facing a credibility crisis, the Hindustan Times has learnt.

Possible solutions under contemplation included putting the judges’ assets details on website.

The Supreme Court had refused to accept the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) directive to furnish information whether judges were declaring assets details to the Chief Justice of India and challenged it in the Delhi High Court.

The HC had on Monday stayed the CIC order and listed the matter for hearing on February 11, 2009.

However, in a major embarrassment to the judiciary, noted jurist Fali S. Nariman turned down the HC’s request to assist it as amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case. In his refusal letter to the court, Nariman had categorically stated that he was in favour of judges declaring their assets and since his views were well known, he could not be a friend of the court in this case.

Shortly after Nariman’s shocker, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee criticised the Supreme Court for its refusal to disclose whether the judges declared their assets. He said, “There is no law which says you have to be honest. Honesty is not imposed by law, dishonesty is treated as a crime.”

An adverse verdict from the High Court could severely damage the Supreme Court’s reputation.