Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Wednesday slammed the Supreme Court for refusing to disclose if the judges were declaring their asset details, and said the system for appointment of judges was “not a good system.”
Disagreeing with the Chief Justice of India’s comments that there was no law or statute that required the judges to make public their wealth details, the Speaker said: “There is no law which says you have to be honest. Honesty is not imposed by law, dishonesty is treated as a crime.”
Chatterjee, talking to a select group of mediapersons, said the rules of Parliament didn’t permit making public the details of members’ wealth, but after the RTI Act became a law in 2005, information was being provided.
Referring to the refusal of noted jurist Fali S. Nariman to assist the Delhi High Court, which is hearing the SC appeal against the Central Information Commission’s order to provide information on whether its judges were providing asset details, Chatterjee said it was an “unfortunate situation”.
He also questioned the government’s decision to issue an ordinance to give a three-fold salary hike to the SC and high court judges. “... As far as I can recall, an ordinance is brought in an emergency situation, when Parliament is not in session. What was the immediate need for hiking the judges’ salary when the House was going to sit in another three weeks’ time?”
If the government was serious, it could have introduced the salary Bill on the first day of the session and not a day before the session was to end. “I hope the intended beneficiaries would say they don’t want to get any benefit from a dubious legislation,” Chatterjee said.
He also had strong words for the judges’ appointment procedure. “India is the only country where judges appoint themselves. It is not a good system.”