New Delhi: With a judge of the Karnataka
High Court coming out openly in favour of declaration of
assets by judges of superior courts, legal experts have come
out with varying opinions on his view that the Chief Justice
of India has no authority to speak for all of them.
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.
"As such in legal terms CJI can only speak for
judiciary as an institution and for himself and has no
authority to stop a judge from making declaration about his
assets" he said.
However, Bhushan supported the views in the article
written by the Karnataka High Court judge and said "the CJI
has no legal power to speak on behalf of all judges".
"Judges are fully entitled to make disclosure of their
assets if they want to, and CJI has no legal authority to
prevent them from doing so. Karnataka High Court judge is
saying correctly that there are many judges who want to
disclose their assets and liabilities to public," he said.
Justice Shylendra Kumar, a sitting High Court judge, in
an article published in national daily, said the Chief Justice
of India has no authority to speak for all the judges of the
superior courts and his views are not necessarily the
representation of the views of all the judges on the issue of
disclosure of assets.
He said it was a misnomer that the judges of the superior
courts are not ready to disclose their assets.
He wrote why should therefore be any reluctance or
hesitation or even an objection on the part of any judge to
disclose particulars of assets acquired by him/her after
assuming the office of judge, as thereafter the only income of
the judge is salary, unless the judge has any other source of
Senior advocate and Constitutional expert K K Venugopal,
who also backed the article of the High Court judges, said
"there has to be complete disclosure of assets by the judges.
"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 and that this would 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.
Rao, who expressed his disagreement with Kumar`s views on
CJI`s authority to speak for all judges, questioned his claims
that majority of the judges were willing to make their assets