On May 7, 1997, the Supreme Court of India in its Full Court adopted a Charter called the “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life” to serve as a guide to be observed by Judges, essential for independent, strong and respected judiciary, indispensable in the impartial administration of justice. This Resolution was preceded by a draft statement circulated to all the High Courts of the country and suitably redrafted in the light of the suggestions received. It has been described as the ‘restatement of the pre-existing and universally accepted norms, guidelines and conventions’ observed by Judges. It is a complete code of the canons of judicial ethics. It reads as under:
- Justice must not merely be done but it must also be seen to be done. The behaviour and conduct of members of the higher judiciary must reaffirm the people’s faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Accordingly, any act of a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court, whether in official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility of this perception has to be avoided.
- A Judge should not contest the election to any office of a Club, society or other association; further he shall not hold such elective office except in a society or association connected with the law.
- Close association with individual members of the Bar, particularly those who practice in the same court, shall be eschewed.
- A Judge should not permit any member of his immediate family, such as spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law or any other close relative, if a member of the Bar, to appear before him or even be associated in any manner with a cause to be dealt with by him.
- No member of his family, who is a member of the Bar, shall be permitted to use the residence in which the Judge actually resides or other facilities for professional work.
- A Judge should practice a degree of aloofness consistent with the dignity of his office.
- A Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in which a member of his family, a close relation or a friend is concerned.
- A Judge shall not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.
- A Judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves. He shall not give interviews to the media.
- A Judge shall not accept gifts or hospitality except from his family, close relations and friends.
- A Judge shall not hear and decide a matter in which a company in which he holds shares is concerned unless he has disclosed his interest and no objection to his hearing and deciding the matter is raised.
- A Judge shall not speculate in shares, stocks or the like.
- A Judge should not engage directly or indirectly in trade or business, either by himself or in association with any other person. (Publication of a legal treatise or any activity in the nature of a hobby shall not be construed as trade or business).
- A Judge should not ask for, accept contributions or otherwise actively associate himself with the raising of any fund for any purpose.
- A Judge should not seek any financial benefit in the form of a perquisite or privilege attached to his office unless it is clearly available. Any doubt in this behalf must be got resolved and clarified through the Chief Justice.
- Every Judge must at all times be conscious that he is under the public gaze and there should be no act or omission by him which is unbecoming of the high office he occupies and the public esteem in which that office is held.
These are only the “Restatement of the Values of Judicial Life” and are not meant to be exhaustive but illustrative of what is expected of a Judge.
The above “restatement” was ratified and adopted by Indian Judiciary in the Chief Justices’ Conference 1999. All the High Courts in the country have also adopted the same in their respective Full Court Meetings.