CJI is more like a ‘serpent without fangs’, says K’taka HC judge
NEWS IN THE INDIA EXPRESS DECEMBER 28,2009
Questioning the moral authority of the Chief Justice of India in the backdrop of the Justice Dinakaran controversy, a pro-active Karnataka High Court judge says the top-most judge is more like a “serpent” without fangs who can only hiss but not bite.
In one of the strongest attacks ever on the head of the country’s judiciary, Justice D V Shylendra Kumar, who raised eyebrows in taking the lead on the issue of assets disclosure by judges, fired a salvo again at the efficacy of the “moral authority” of the top judiciary in ensuring that erring judges fall in place.“The concept that the Chief Justice of India, being the head of judiciary in the country, and therefore, can exercise his moral authority to ensure that erring judges fall in place and behave themselves, is a misnomer and misconception,” he said.
Justice Kumar made these remarks in an article on “Judicial Accountability” published in the souvenir of the Karnataka State Advocates Conference, which was held in Hubli on Sunday. The article has also been posted on his blog.“The mere moral authority of the Chief Justice of India is of no value or significance, unless it can have some binding effect, which is not provided under the Constitution,” Justice Kumar wrote.
“The Chief Justice of India, in so far as the relative position for such purpose is concerned, is more like a serpent without fangs, who can only hiss, but not bite, which will be an open secret in no time and the serpent will not be feared by anyone, however menacing it may look, however loud it may hiss! Unfortunately, that is the reality.”
“I say so, for the reason that an errant judge is a person who has breached the moral code of conduct, is a brazen person on whom no moral authority binds, nor does he respect moral authority and, therefore, the so-called moral authority of the Chief Justice of India as the figure-head of the judicial family, has virtually no effect on such errant judges,” Justice Kumar said. He also doubted the effectiveness of the impeachment proceedings in the present system against judges of the superior courts.
Referring to the impeachment motion moved against Karnataka Chief Justice P D Dinakaran in the Rajya Sabha, Justice Kumar is of the view that for the present there is no other mechanism to discipline an errant judge of a superior court.He said, “If the past experience is any indication, the impeachment procedure does not work in reality and practice, more so in the present political system in the country with fragmented political parties and views.”
Justice Kumar, who has been critical of Justice Dinakaran continuing to discharge administrative functions after staying away from the Bench, said, “Judicial accountability is a phrase, which sounds incongruous and can convey conflicting messages. The phrase has assumed importance in the wake of the improper, irregular and incorrect manner of functioning of judicial officers even amongst the judges in the superior courts,” he noted in an apparent reference to the land-grabbing charges being faced by Justice Dinakaran.