Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan on Friday said every Supreme Court judge was following the 1997 resolutions on declaration of assets, and denied reports that these were not being implemented properly.
Talking to journalists here, he said the August 26, 2009 resolution passed by the Full was unanimous. “We are strictly following the 1997 resolutions, under which the disclosures were not to be made public. Now, because of the changed circumstances, we will put the details on the court website.”
The two resolutions adopted at the Full Court Meeting on May 7, 1997 are:
“Resolved that an in-house procedure should be devised by the Chief Justice of India to take suitable remedial action against Judges who, by their acts of omission or commission, do not follow the universally accepted values of judicial life, including those indicated in the ‘restatement of values of judicial life.’
“Resolved further that every Judge should make a declaration of all his/her assets in the form of real estate or investment (held by him/her in his/her own name or in the name of his/her spouse or any person dependent on him/her) within a reasonable time of assuming office and in the case of sitting Judges within a reasonable time of adoption of this resolution and thereafter whenever any acquisition of a substantial nature is made, it shall be disclosed within a reasonable time. The declaration so made should be to the Chief Justice of the Court. The Chief Justice makes a similar declaration for the purpose of the record. The declaration made by the Judges or the Chief Justice, as the case may be, shall be confidential.”
Justice Balakrishnan said the Supreme Court judges had been submitting statements of their assets to the CJI.
Referring to the August 26 resolution, he said every Supreme Court Judge would disclose his assets in accordance with the 1997 resolutions.
He said: “The declaration of assets will take some time, as the statement has not been updated, and the judges want some time to update it. I am giving some time to them to get it updated after 2002-03. The declaration of assets on the website will be according to the resolutions of 1997.”
Asked how long it would take to put the details on the website, he said it could be done in a month.
No decision on format
On the scope of the information to be put on the website, he said: “We have not taken any decision on the format which will be applied for declaring the assets. It will take some time. The whole procedure would take a month or more. Different procedure is followed in every country. In the United States, such declaration of assets by judges is beyond the scope of the Right to Information Act. Argentina follows another method. We are yet to decide on the format.”
Asked whether he would ask the High Courts to adopt similar resolutions, the CJI said they could not be compelled to follow suit. Even the 1997 resolutions were not adopted by many High Courts. However, “this time I think that at least some of the High Courts will follow us.”