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Judges' assets case: SC challenges HC order

October 05, 2009 16:27 IST
The Supreme Court on Monday moved the Delhi High Court challenging its order holding that the office of Chief Justice of India came within the ambit of the Right To Information Act and that information pertaining to declaration of judges' assets could be made public.

The apex court filed an appeal against judgement of a single bench of the HC which had on September 2 stated that the CJI is a public authority and his office comes within the purview of the transparency law.

The HC judgment was against the stand taken by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, who had consistently been maintaining that his office is beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act.

Although the Supreme Court had agreed to put the information regarding assets of judges on its website, the appeal filed deals with the larger issue whether the CJI's office comes within the ambit of the RTI Act.

The appeal against the single bench verdict would be heard by a division bench of the HC.

Justice S Ravindra Bhatt had rejected the plea of the Supreme Court that the disclosure of information on assets, which was made to the CJI, was 'unworkable.'

The verdict had come in the backdrop of an intense debate over the issue and the earlier decision of the Supreme Court judges to make public their assets on the official website.

The High Court, which described the transparency law as a 'powerful beacon,' had said the modalities for revealing information could be decided by the CJI in consultation with other judges.

"These are not insurmountable obstacles. The CJI, if he deems it appropriate, may in consultation with the Supreme Court judges evolve uniform standards, devising the nature of information, relevant formats and, if required, the periodicity of declaration to be made," it had said.

The court dwelling upon the importance of the RTI Act-2005 had said, "The Parliamentary intention in enacting this law was to arm citizens with the mechanism to scrutinise government and public processes and ensure transparency."

It did not agree with the apex court's contention that the 1997 resolution passed by the judges on disclosure of assets to the CJI was not binding, saying it was adopted to set the best ethical standards in the higher judiciary.

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