Karnataka HC Judge’s bold, and refreshing article

Rarely, HC Judges take a public position, which is opposed to that of the Chief Justice of India and his brother Judges in the Supreme Court. Therefore, Justice D.V.Shylendra Kumar of Karnataka High Court’s two-part article in New Indian Express on the question of Judges declaring their assets, and questioning the CJI’s right to speak on behalf of the entire Judiciary in the country is sure to raise eyebrows. The author’s observations are very persuasive: first, the CJI’s views cannot be representative of the views of the other SC Judges or HC Judges on the matter. Second, in our scheme of things, the HCs are independent, and are not under the administrative control of the Supreme Court. He has also asserted his right to express his views freely on any matter without fear or favour.

The two-part article can be read here and here.
Justice Kumar is also reportedly exploring how to publicly declare his assets even in the absence of an agreed procedure. However, Justice Kumar’s article is bound to raise issues of propriety because the Delhi High Court is still hearing the Supreme Court’s appeal against the CIC decision on the assets case. Point No.8 in this Restatement of Values of Judicial Life is of particular relevance.

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Harish Narsappa
Harish Narsappa
12 years ago

This is indeed a surprising development- one that is good and welcome in my view. The judiciary is being painted with one brush on this issue and if there are different perceptions in this regard, it is important that the public hear this directly, instead through murmurs, rumours and leaks through the members of the bar. I particularly like the point that Justice Kumar makes about the assets of the judges- why, he asks, is there a problem in disclosing assets, if the judges have filed their IT returns correctly before they became judges and after they become judges their only income is their salary! One should of course add any income from prior investments. But the point is very valid and it will be hard for anybody to reject this.

The issue of No.8 of the Restatement of Judicial Values is indeed tricky. However, if the CJI has expressed his views, what prevents other judges from expressing theirs, particularly when they are willing to voluntarily disclose their assets. Also, this is an important debate on public values and it is likely that there will be differences of opinion even after any judgment is pronounced. Given that there is no particular client interest that is likely to be harmed, it will be sad if Justice Kumar's views are considered a breach of No. 8. I for one, do not believe it shoudl be considered as such.