Delhi High Court says judges asset declaration covered under RTI

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New Delhi, Sep.2 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has on Wednesday said that the Chief Justice of India is a public authority under the RTI Act, which means that asset declaration is covered by the RTI under Section 8 1 (A).

This comes after SC judges had decided tp make their assets public. The only question was whether judges would entertain questions from the public under the RTI act.

A petition was filed by the apex court in the Delhi High Court challenging the Central Information Common Order which had questioned whether the judges revealed their assets to the Chief Justice of India.

Political parties and legal experts last week had welcomed the move of the Supreme Court judges to make public the details of their assets.

Union Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily said: "If they have come forward to disclose it, it is welcome. It is for the judges to decide how it should be done because what is best in the interest of the judges, they are the best judge."

Welcoming the move, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "I am afraid that this decision could have been taken earlier and the unfortunate controversy over the last couple of months could have been avoided."

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the judiciary has avoided "further needless controversy", but it could have been avoided if the decision was taken earlier, he said.

"It is a question of public perception and public confidence, trust, faith and in that light it is a step in the right direction," he said.

Describing it as a very good decision taken by judges, Former Attorney General and constitutional expert Soli Sorabjee said: "I think it is a very good development. It"s better late than never."

"I am sure their initial reluctance not to declare assets was not because they had anything to hide. They had misgivings that it may be misused," he added.

Senior lawyer Harish Salve said: "The whole controversy had become very unsavory with this kind of suggestions that judges have something to hide they want to be above the law. I am so happy that the Supreme Court has risen to the occasion."

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan said the move would also now encourage the High Courts judges to make public their assets.

"It is absolutely a welcome move and I am sure it will also encourage the judges of the High Courts to publicly declare their assets and force the government to put up assets of government servants on public website which can be accessed by the people," Bhushan said.

Terming the decision as "excellent", senior advocate K K Venugopal said: "I think it is the greatest step that the judiciary could take because it has cleared all the clouds which have been hanging over the issue." (ANI)

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