Judges must declare their Assets

Judges must declare their Assets

News: Recently, the PSC on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice recommended that all public functionaries in India are required to furnish the annual return of their assets.

What are the provisions of Asset declaration by Public officials in India?
• Service conditions and the Conduct Rules of Civil Servants - Mandatory to file annual returns of their immovable properties.
• The Code of Ethics - The Comptroller and Auditor General of India uploads their latest assets’ declaration on the website under their Code of Ethics.
• The Code of Conduct - Members of the Council of Ministers declare their assets as per the Code of Conduct for Ministers issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
• Members of Parliament are required to furnish information regarding their assets and liabilities within 90 days from the date of their taking the oath.
• However, there is no such provision of Assets Declaration by the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court.

Has the Supreme Court taken any steps in this direction before?
• The Restatement of Values of Judicial Life - A resolution by the SC on May 7, 1997 made it mandatory for every judge of the SC & HCs to make a declaration of assets and liabilities at the time of appointment and thereafter, at the beginning of every year.
• On August 26, 2009 – The SC decided to disclose assets to the public by putting it on the website of the apex court. However, a very small number of judges (55 of SC & 5 of HCs) have thus far uploaded their assets’ declarations.

What should be the way forward?
• The SC must look to ensure a mechanism which will require the judges of the SC and HCs to compulsorily furnish the annual returns of their immovable properties every year.
• The government should bring in appropriate legislation to make it mandatory for the judges of the SC and HCs to furnish their property returns on an annual basis.
• It will further enhance the confidence of citizens in the Judiciary. 

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