Page last updated at 05:30 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 06:30 UK

India judges to disclose assets

Scales of justice
There have been allegations of corruption against judges

Judges at India's Supreme Court have agreed to make public details about their financial assets and to publish the information on the court's website.

The landmark decision follows intense public debate about the importance of judicial accountability in India.

It was taken at a meeting between the 23 judges of the country's highest court and presided over by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

The decision is likely to lead some 600 high court judges to follow suit.

The decision comes days after Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan said that the judges needed to arrive at a consensus on public declaration of their assets in the absence of a law.

It also follows a recent statement by two high court judges that they would publicly disclose their assets.

One of them, Justice Shylendra Kumar of the high court in the southern Karnataka state, has already handed a list of his assets to the court authorities for publication on a website.

'Checking corruption'

A number of retired judges have welcomed the decision.

"I am extremely happy that by taking this step, it will mean an end to the unsavoury debate engulfing the judiciary," former chief justice JS Verma said.

The Indian media echoed the sentiment.

"The opposition within sections of the higher judiciary to mandatory public disclosure of judges' assets - a measure to promote judicial transparency and check judicial corruption - threatened to weaken public confidence in the judicial system," The Hindu newspaper wrote.

There has been rising public demand for greater transparency on the part of judges after allegations of corruptions against some judges over the last few years.

Earlier this month, the government was forced to delay the introduction of a bill in parliament that exempts judges from making their income and assets public after criticism from opposition parties.

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