Cabinet nod for judicial accountability bill


P.Sunderarajan & J.Venkatesan In The Hindu

Public can lodge complaints against judges with a national oversight committee

The bill will mandate judges to declare assets and liabilities . Oversight committee to be headed by a retired Chief Justice of India

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bill providing for a mechanism to deal with complaints against judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill sets judicial standards and makes judges accountable for their lapses. It will also mandate the judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court to declare their assets and liabilities, including those of their spouses and dependents.

The bill to replace the Judges Inquiry Act retains its basic features, contemplates setting up of a national oversight committee with which the public can lodge complaints against erring judges, including the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justices of the High Courts. At present, there is no legal mechanism for dealing with complaints against judges, who are governed by ‘Restatement of Values of Judicial Life,’ adopted by the judiciary as a code of conduct without any statutory sanction.

The five-member committee will be headed by a retired Chief Justice of India, appointed by the President, and have a serving Judge of the Supreme Court and a serving High Court Judge, both nominated by the Chief Justice of India; the Attorney-General; and an eminent person nominated by the President. This marks a change from the earlier proposal, in which the committee was to be headed by the Vice-President and to have the Chief Justice of India, a High Court judge and two distinguished jurists not involved in regular practice of law.

On receiving a complaint, the committee will forward it to a system of scrutiny panels. In the case of a complaint against a Supreme Court Judge, the scrutiny panel will consist of a former Chief Justice of India and two sitting Supreme Court judges, and in the case of a complaint against a High Court judge, the panel will have a former Chief Justice of the High Court and two of its sitting judges. The members of the Supreme Court panel will be nominated by the Chief Justice of India, and that of the High Court panels by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned.



The scrutiny panels will have the powers of a civil court. For instance, they can call for witnesses and evidences. They will be required to give their report within three months to the oversight committee. In the case of a complaint against a Chief Justice, the oversight committee itself will conduct the scrutiny. On receiving the report from the scrutiny panels, the oversight committee will set up a committee to further investigate the case. Like the scrutiny panels, the investigation committee will have the powers of a civil court; it will have the power to frame definite charges. If the charges are not proved, the investigation committee can dismiss the case. Otherwise, it will give a report to the oversight committee, which can issue an advisory or warning if the charges are not too serious. If the charges are serious, the committee can request the judge concerned to resign. If the judge does not do so, the oversight committee will forward the case to the President with an advisory for his removal.

In such an event, copies of all relevant documents will be laid in Parliament and an impeachment motion moved. In the Lok Sabha, not less than 100 members will be required to move the motion, and in the Rajya Sabha not less than 50 members will be needed. Official sources said that besides declaring their assets, judges would be required to file an annual return of assets and liabilities. All the details would be put up on the websites of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The bill will also require the judges not to have close association with any member of the Bar, especially those who practise in the same court.


5 Responses

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  1. gk jose said, on October 9, 2010 at 09:56

    1.The requirement of having the support of 100 or 50 MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively to move the motion for impeachment will only frustrate the process. this provision will ensure the impeachment becomes a bargain between political parties and open to manipulations by interested parties.


  2. gk jose said, on October 9, 2010 at 10:51

    The eventuality of the removal of a Judge by the Parliament arises only after the said Judge has been held guilty by the National Oversight Committee and has been asked to resign and the guilty Judge has refused to do, forcing the Committee to forward the recommendation of the said Judge’s removal to the President.

    Certain assumptions can be made here. One, an inquiry has been held by the Oversight Committee, two the Judge has been held guilty and finally, the said Judge has been asked to resign. Questions of illegality in the above process is not available to the Judge.

    The matter goes to the President only upon the refusal of the guilty Judge to resign as directed.

    The President then may submit this report to the advise of the Cabinet before dismissing the guilty Judge and recommending legal action.

    There is absolutely no need for the Parliament to be involved in this process.

    The requirement of having the support of 100 or 50 MPs in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha respectively to move the motion for impeachment will only frustrate the process. this provision will ensure the impeachment becomes a bargain between politicians and open to manipulations by interested parties.

    Even otherwise, it is not understood why there is any need the support of the MPs (that too in such large numbers) for initiating an impeachment process. These MPs were not taken into confidence when the Hon’ble Judges are appointed and hence referring the issue of the removal of a guilty judge to the parliament is absolutely unnecessary.

    If we insist upon the involvement of the parliament in removing the guilty judges, then first of all let us involve the parliament in the appointment of the High Court and Supreme Court Judges. We can have a Parliament Committee responsible for Appointment and Removal of High Court and Supreme Court Judges.

    As of now insisting upon an impeachment motion in the parliament for the removal of a guilty Judge, that too with such huge number of support of MPs, is simply ensuring the defeat of the very purpose of the Accountability Bill.

  3. […] Cabinet nod for judicial accountability bill ( […]

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  5. Sonam said, on August 21, 2011 at 09:22

    Judicial accountability bill is, no doubt,an attempt by the Indian Parliament to subvert the corrupt practices by the Judges of the SC & HCs but ‘the fox’ has 100 tactics to ditch the hunter,is also a well known saying.SC & HCs judges are enjoying privileges no less than a despotic monarch,they lobby with a group of advocates of their choice,they leave nothing to brow beat the junior lawyers in order to show down and discourage them in spite of the fact that they have a very good case,only in order to appease their favorites for obvious reasons;a lawyer (or litigant) does not dare the judge ‘not to favor’ for fear of ‘contempt of court’ & being condemned by other junta in the higher judiciary & subordinate judge too look down upon such an advocate with the result that he turn out to be ‘briefless lawyer’ and soon starts starving.The scourge is so cruel that anybody intending to ‘call a spade a spade’ has nowhere but to go to gallows.
    The Bill will indeed take care of the Judge but what about the clerical staff who are so blue-eyed that they get their postings as per their ‘choice’ & leave no effort to fleece the people that go to the Court with the idea that they are ‘going to God’s Home for a solace’ but lose their own ‘solace’.The rampant corruption in the subordinate Courts has gone so high that its has become impossible to bring it down,not to talk of eradicating it.Subordinate judge do not hear any buzz about their ‘bread winner’ clerk(s) as he (run) run the hearth at their homes.The clique is so powerful that lawyers themselves are afraid to complain about them as they this axes their ‘practice’. So much so that sometimes clerks do not tell what is the next date fixed,do not provide certified copies unless their palms are highly greased,they tell the people they are busy in more important work……..The woes of the litigants etc are innumerable & insurmountable.Even if you tell me that there are certain ways & means to scuttle this unholy practice, I suggest come in the court in the forma of a junior lawyer or a litigant & then suggest this means etc.EXAMPLE….In one court a litigant came in a BIG CAR.It didn’t go unnoticed by the ‘vultures’.He goes to the office for knowing about a case regarding which he was served a summons.In order to make the things easier & save time,he himself offered Rs.500/- note to the Office Babu but Babu knows his status by CAR.He pretends “No sir no bribing please’.This gentleman is impressed & waits.Babu gets busy rummaging through the pages of a Register.This gentleman does not get even a chair though there were two.Babu is very busy as if he had nothing urgent that this Register.Gentleman askes, “Sir,when I shall come I have come from a distant locality about 100 miles away”.Babu: Sir I have to send important info to HC.Plz come tomorrow.I will tell about your case”.GM:Sir,I a busy businessman it costs me much for coming again for this purpose.Plz help.I can wait.Babu:OK,come at 4,if I get time I will let you know…..Now this GM thinks he shd go to Presiding Officer & he really makes it.The PO tell him:You want to know the proceedings, engage advocate Mr.XX is the best.He can come to us & my Babu will tell him everything.GM:Sir I have already engaged GDS & paid fee.My adv is not available.His Juniour is with me.PO:Junior….??? OK you can come tomorrow with GDS.Look I am very busy (Judge, PO gets busy with two woman layer & asks them to come to the Chamber for a cup of T).This GM hits upon a plan,which he tried with so many other ppl.He goes to the Babu again,pulls out a RED Note from his vault in the full view of the Babu &……..the Babu tell “Sir why dont you sit in the chair & tell me you Summons.GM sneaks the 1000/- note & tells Baby ‘Sir this is my visiting card.Sometime come on a tour with your family.I also invite you Honourable Judge.Plz give us some chance of service….”:Babu pushes the 1000/- note in hip pocket & tells the peon ‘get some t for the Sir’.Tea is served in shabby cups,GM’s work is done then Babu tell, “This poor man also hopes….”The GM pulls a 100/-..The Babu tells, “Sir,aap jaisse bade logo ko bechara chai pilata hai..aap khud samjhdar ho.Mehgaii…” GM brings another 100/- Peon leaves the room.Babu:Sir yeh bada Honest hai aur gareeb hai….”Peon enters.GM draws 500/- notes.Peon pounces & lterally snatches & then kneels on his feet “aap ke bache salamt rehar.Sir koi kaam ho…Sir aap ko ane ki zaroorat nahi,hum Judge Sahib se baat kar lenge………”
    On the other han a poor man comes….just imagine HOW HE GETS JUSTICE IN THE “INSAAF KA MANDIR” Mei.

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