Justice A.R. Lakshmanan, the Supreme Court judge hearing Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s review petition in the disproportionate assets case, has recused himself after he reportedly received an anonymous letter this morning casting aspersions on his integrity. Although the identify of the letter-writer is masked, his intention is obvious: to kick up a cloud of suspicion around the honourable judge and force him to do his bidding or to force him out.
Justice Lakshmanan’s decision opens the old chestnut about judges and their assets and liabilities. Should the judges declare them as a matter of formality, annually, like the politicians so that they are not susceptible to such blackmail? Or, is the Chief Justice of India Justice K.G. Balakrishnan right when he says that “no self-respecting judge” would declare his assets? Will judges declaring assets help transparency and enhance the credibility of the judiciary?