SC judges to disclose assets
Bowing to intense public pressure and faced with division in their ranks, Supreme Court judges on Wednesday finally agreed to take a belated step towards transparency and make public their assets and liabilities. Details of judges’ holdings will now be posted on the website of the apex court. However, the landmark decision comes with a caveat: The judges will not entertain any query relating to their assets and liabilities and how their wealth has increased or decreased. The decision to make public personal assets and liabilities as well as those of their spouses and dependents was taken by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and the judges at a full court meeting, marking a major climbdown on the part of the higher judiciary. The outcome of the meeting was influenced by the growing pressure from within for disclosure of assets with Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka high court publicly taking issue with the CJI for his stand that judges should not be required to disclose assets. The CJI even described Justice Kumar as ‘publicity crazy’. The two-hour-long full court meeting discussed the fallout of the article written by Justice Kumar, as it came around to letting the details of assets and liabilities being posted on the site www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in. While the view was revised on Wednesday, the meeting did not completely disregard the argument that public disclosure of assets would expose judges to malicious litigation, hence the rider about inquiries. The judges decided that while details would be posted on the website, the registry would not entertain further queries.