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Rules proposed for mandatory declaration of assets by SC, HC judges: Centre to parliamentary panel

The standing committee on law and personnel said that the declaration of assets by judges of the higher judiciary will only bring more trust and credibility to the system.

NEW DELHI: The government has told a parliamentary panel that it is planning to frame rules to lay down a procedure for making statutory provisions for declaration of assets by judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

Consultations have been initiated with the top court's registry in this regard, the Department of Justice in the law ministry said and added that its response on the issue is awaited.

Based on the government's response recorded in the action-taken report, the department-related standing committee on law and personnel asked the justice department to fast-track the consultation process with the Supreme Court Registry for making the statutory provisions in the rules for declaration of assets by judges of the top court and high courts on their initial appointment.

The action-taken report of the committee on its earlier report on "Judicial processes and their reforms" was tabled in Parliament last week in the just-concluded Budget session.

In its earlier report, the committee headed by BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi had said that as a general practice, all constitutional functionaries and government servants must file annual returns of their assets and liabilities.

"The Supreme Court has gone to the extent of holding that the public has a right to know the assets of those standing for elections as MPs or MLAs. When so, it belies the logic that judges don't need to disclose their assets and liabilities. Anybody holding a public office and drawing a salary from the exchequer should mandatorily furnish annual returns of their property," the committee had opined.

It had also said that the declaration of assets by judges of the higher judiciary—the Supreme Court and 25 high courts—will only bring more trust and credibility to the system.

"As the last resolution of the Supreme Court on the declaration of assets by judges on a voluntary basis is not complied with, the committee recommends the government to bring about an appropriate legislation to make it mandatory for judges of the higher judiciary to furnish their property returns on an annual basis to the appropriate authority," the parliamentary committee had said.

In its response, or "action taken," the government said that based on the recommendations made by the committee, the Department of Justice "is proposing to frame rules under the High Court Judges Act, 1954, and the Supreme Court Judges Act, 1958, to lay down a procedure for making statutory provisions in the rules for declaration of assets by the judges of the Supreme Court and high court judges on their initial appointment and thereafter every year by the due date."

It said the consultation with the Registry of the Supreme Court has since been initiated, soliciting their views on the matter.

"Their response, however, is awaited," the committee said.

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