23 Aug : Seeking to dispel the impression that he was against disclosure of assets by judges, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan has said the members of higher judiciary are free to do so and attacked Karnataka High Court Judge D V Shylendra Kumar as being “publicity-crazy”.
He also said he has the right to speak on behalf of all judges as head of judiciary and this is the practice in judicial systems in other countries too.
“The public has a right to know what is happening in judiciary and I am telling and I stand by what I have said on disclosure of assets by judges,” Balakrishnan told a news agency.
He said, “If the judges want to declare their assets, no one can prevent (them). How can I prevent. If the law comes everybody has to declare.”
The CJI said Justice Kumar, who had said that the CJI had no authority to speak on behalf of other judges, wants publicity and that is why he has written on the issue, which is not good for a judge.
“He wants publicity and such a thing is not good for a judge. Judges should not be publicity-crazy,” he added.
Balakrishnan said he has spoken about the declaration of assets by Supreme Court judges which they are doing.
In the absence of law to make public the disclosure of assets, there is no agreement among the judges in this regard and a consensus has to be developed, he said.
Senior advocate and Constitutional expert K K Venugopal said, “I agree with the judge of the Karnataka High Court that all judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts should make complete disclosure of assets.
“This will only enhance the prestige of the Supreme Court and High Courts and also enhance the confidence that public have in administration of justice,” he said.
While former Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan was in agreement with the views of Justice D V Shylendra Kumar of the high court, noted jurist P P Rao said being the head of the judiciary as an institution; the CJI was entitled to speak on the contentious issue.
“The CJI can certainly speak on behalf of the judiciary as he is the head of the institution,” Rao said.