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Delhi High Court Verdict On CJI Assets On Tuesday

PTI 11 Jan 2010, 20:54:43 IST

The Delhi High Court will pronounce its verdict on Tuesday on whether the Chief Justice of India's office comes within the ambit of Right to Information Act making him obligatory to reveal information held by him including that on judges' assets.

A full bench comprising Chief Justice A P Shah and Justices S Muralidhar and Vikramjeet Sen will pass its judgement on an appeal filed by the apex court challenging its single bench's order which held that CJI's office comes within the ambit of Right to Information Act and directed it to reveal information on judges' assets.

The verdict would assume significance as the Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan has consistently been maintaining that his office does not come within the purview of RTI Act but under pressure from outside and within the judiciary, apex court judges have agreed to make public their assets. 

After extensive arguments on the issue, the Bench had reserved the order on November 13.  The High Court had in its September 2 verdict on the controversial issue held the CJI was a public authority and his office came within the purview of the transparency law. 

Challenging the order, the Supreme Court registry had contended that the single judge had erred in declaring that the office of CJI comes within the ambit of RTI Act and had interpreted the provisions of the Act too broadly which was "unnecessary" and "illogical". 

The apex court also contended that judges cannot be put under public scrutiny as it would hamper their functioning and independence. 

"We cannot expose our judges to public scrutiny or inquiry because it would hamper their functioning and independence," Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati, appearing for apex court registry, had contended. 

The AG contended other agencies should not be allowed to interfere in the judiciary.  "Judges cannot be judged by public perception. The judiciary cannot be exposed to third party. There is no problem in having better transparency and accountability in the system but it should come from within the system," he had submitted. 

"Independence of judiciary is paramount... Non-declaration of assets does not mean demeaning and lowering of judicial values. Judges also need protection. They are most vulnerable in the society," he said adding if CJI's office is declared as a public authority under the RTI Act, then people would also seek information over the appointment and promotion of judges. PTI