Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan came under renewed pressure on Tuesday from two of his predecessors to end his resistance on revealing wealth details of judges, as more high court judges hinted they were willing to go public with their assets.
Karnataka High Court judge, D V Shylendra Kumar, who triggered a chain reaction among judges across the country with his strongly worded newspaper article on Friday saying most judges were not reluctant to declare their assets, has made public his wealth details.
The CJI had slammed Justice Kumar for making his views public, and had termed him as “publicity crazy.” The judge, undeterred by the CJI’s strong remarks has declared his assets, as was stated by him in his lengthy written piece.
Justice Kumar has submitted a statement of his assets and liabilities to the high court registrar. “He has added a note that these details are for the public,” a court official said.
Justice Kumar had expressed his desire to make public his assets in his article on Friday, but Justice K Kannan of Punjab and Haryana High Court went ahead first and declared his assets on Sunday.
A third judge, Justice K Chandru of Madras High Court, has also expressed his desire to do so.
Two judges of Patna High Court have told HT they are also willing to declare their assets. They were, however, not willing to come on record yet.
Former CJI J S Verma, the judge who had initiated the process for judges’ assets declaration by getting a resolution approved in a full court meeting attended by 22 Supreme Court judges in May 1997, has questioned Justice Balakrishnan’s reluctance on the issue.
Asked about the CJI’s statement that there was no consensus among Supreme Court judges yet on declaring assets, Justice Verma said: “The real strength of the judiciary lies in public acclaim and not in dragging it into unnecessary controversies.
“What more consensus is required when the Supreme Court judges are bound by their own resolution. To the best of my knowledge, it has not been set aside since it was adopted 12 years ago.”
It was followed-up with a letter to then Prime Minister asking for a law on the subject. “Where is the ambiguity,” asked Justice Verma.
Another former CJI, V N Khare said the controversy was “damaging judciary’s credibility. An impression is being created that the judges have something to hide.”