Assets disclosure by judges to be made mandatory
NEW DELHI: The government will soon introduce a Bill to make it mandatory for judges to disclose their assets and liabilities. It will also bring in legislation to set up a mechanism for inquiring into cases of corruption among judges, Union Law and Justice Minister Veerappa Moily said on Friday. Speaking at a meet-the-press organised by the Press Association here, Mr. Moily said he had asked the Law Secretary to prepare within two days a draft of the Bill on disclosure of assets and liabilities by judges so that it could be sent for Cabinet clearance at the earliest.
The Bill was part of the 100-day agenda of the Ministry. It was a wrong notion that the judiciary was against such legislation, the Minister said, adding the government would take it into confidence before the Bill was passed. “We are not on a confrontationist path.” On the other Bill to set up a mechanism to probe cases of corruption among judges, he said it was intended to fill a major lacuna — there was no provision for punishment short of impeachment. Judiciary commission Unveiling proposals to tone up the judicial system, Mr. Moily said it was planned to establish a national judiciary service on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service and the Indian Foreign Service to enable lateral entries at different levels of the judiciary and to set up a National Judiciary Commission. Steps would be taken to fill vacancies at different levels. There were five vacancies in the Supreme Court, 251 in the High Courts, and over 3,000 at district and sessions courts. In the Allahabad High Court alone, there were 80 vacancies.
As of March 31, 50,613 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, 38,74,090 cases in High Courts and 2.64 crore cases in district and sessions courts. Measures would be taken to bring down the numbers. “Presently, cases are pending on average for 15 years. This would be brought down to three years.” Use of IT Mr. Moily said discussions were on with National Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda and legal experts on how modern tools of information and communication technology could be used to make the judicial process more effective, affordable and accessible to the common man.
“We are on the job. … The road map for judicial reforms would be ready by September 15.” Sudershan Reddy to head panel Chief Justice of India K. G. Balakrishnan has named Justice B. Sudershan Reddy of the Supreme Court chairman of the three-member panel set up by the Rajya Sabha to look into the issue of impeachment proceedings against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court. This was announced by Union Law and Justice Minister M. Veerappa Moily here on Friday. “In the last 60 years, impeachment proceedings have not been successful. This time it is going to happen in Soumitra Sen’s case,” Mr. Moily said. Justice Reddy replaces Justice D.K. Jain, who indicated earlier this month that he would not be able to serve on the panel.
Bill soon on declaration of judges’ assets: Moily
|New Delhi, DHNS:|
|Saturday, June 27, 2009|
|Judges will shortly have to declare their assets and liabilities, according to a proposed bill scheduled to be introduced in the coming session of Parliament.|
|Disclosing this here on Friday, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said, “The judges will have to declare their assets and liabilities. But it is wrong to assume that they (judges) are against it. Also, it is not correct to say judges should not declare assets.”
He was addressing an interactive session organised by the Press Association, a body of accredited journalists.
According to Moily, the file containing the proposals has been “sent to the law secretary to study the draft and I expect it to be ready in two days”.
Asked about a petition pending before the Delhi High Court in this regard, he said the government was not for confrontation with the judiciary, but said, “as public servants the judges should be accountable. The Judges Accountability Bill is a must and would be introduced”.
Supreme Court judges voluntarily file statements, declaring their assets and liabilities, with the Chief Justice of India. The CJI has so far refused to place the statements in the public domain, insisting that a law be first enacted to prevent misuse of such information.
Moily said as part of the judicial reform, he would submit an action plan by September 15 to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh enumerating a two-pronged strategy that envisaged cutting down the number of pending cases and to reduce the number of litigations.
On impeachment proceedings against Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen, Moily said Justice Sudarshan Reddy of the Supreme Court will replace Justice D K Jain on the committee looking into the allegations. The committee was appointed by the Rajya Sabha chairman after the impeachment proceedings were taken up in the Upper House. The report will be ready shortly. Firm that the government will go ahead with the impeachment, Moily said there was instance of such proceedings in Independent India. “This time it is going to happen,” the minister insisted.
Talking about the contentious law banning homosexuality (Section 377 of the IPC), Moily said Union Home Minister P Chidrambaram has invited the home ministers and health ministers of all states for a discussion on the issue. “Moreover, the matter is pending before the Delhi High Court. After arguments, the order has been reserved,” he said refusing to give a definite answer.
He also disclosed that about 100 special CBI courts and 200 family courts will be set up to decide corruption and family-related cases. The four metropolitan cities will have commercial courts to handle corporate cases.