Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Declaration of Assets by Judges-How they do it elsewhere

Given the concerns, justifiable or otherwise, raised by a section of the judiciary regarding the possible misuse of information pertaining to judges' assets; and the call for putting in place strict guidelines and procedures to determine when, what, and how much, to declare, it might be interesting to see how other countries deal with this issue. Here is US Chief Justice John G. Robert's financial disclosure for 2007 (the latest available). The financial disclosure records of all US Supreme Court judges can be accessed here, and the records of all US SC, appellate, and district court judges can be found here. The US financial declaration system does not seem to be focusing only on the tracking of wealth accumulation (though that is of course a necessary component), but also on determining issues of conflict of interest. Hence, a major portion of their declaration deals with gifts, etc received by judges, and visits, conferences and lectures attended by them, alongwith payment or reimbursement received. In light of the Ghaziabad scam that is still under investigation, I believe financial disclosure by judges in India should contain this component as well.

Needless to say, this does not mean that we should follow other countries blindly in this or any other regard. Their experiences can however be taken into account in formulating our own rules.
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