The Indian Supreme Court may be standing at a historic juncture where it could throw open the doors to the public to question its accountability by disclosing information pertaining to the assets and interests of the judges of the higher judiciary. The Supreme Court, however, seems reluctant to bring the higher judiciary under the purview of the Right to Information Act. A tussle has already emerged between the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, with the former seeking to bring the higher judiciary under the information law and justifying the need for disclosure of assets of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The Supreme Court has been resisting the disclosure of such information on grounds of independence, confidentiality, and possible breach of fiduciary duty.
In this Article, I chart the recent tussle and discuss the present law regarding the Right to Information in the country, specifically the exemptions to the general rule of disclosure, and examine the Supreme Court’s position. I analyze whether disclosure of assets and other interests of judges of the higher judiciary adversely affects the independence of the judiciary. I argue that in order to maintain the people’s faith in the judiciary and to promote democratically grounded judicial independence, it is imperative for the higher judiciary to adopt transparency in its functioning and salvage its reputation before the people’s confidence in it withers away forever.
Indian Supreme Court, India, fiduciary duty, confidentiality, democracy, right to information, judges, Delhi High Court, accountability, disclosure, judicial independence, independence, judiciary