Can CJI cleanse system of corruption?
It was the unjust act of King Claudius causing agony and trauma to Prince Hamlet that made Marcellus scathingly comment about the Danish royal house in Shakespeare’s drama `Hamlet’ — “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”
On Friday, the Supreme Court drew a parallel between the Danish royal house of `Hamlet’ with today’s Allahabad High Court and showed unusual fury in castigating some judges of Allahabad HC by saying two ex-parte interim orders passed on June 11 and 18 on a petition filed by one Raja Khan “were clearly passed on extraneous considerations”.
The SC pointed a finger at the integrity of some judges of the HC by narrating how their relatives practising in the same court had reaped luxury since they became judges. “There is something rotten in Allahabad HC,” it said in exasperation.
The worrying point: if this is the perception of the highest court of the country about the state of affairs in the largest HC, can the 20 crore people of Uttar Pradesh be blamed for carrying tales about injustice in the temples of justice?
Just a few days back, during a hearing in a sensitive case, a senior SC judge made a poignant remark: “When there is total failure in the system, where will the people go?”
A person knocks the doors of courts only after he gets disillusioned with the administrative merry-go-round. Given the crux of SC’s judgment on Friday, there is little he can do, except suffer in silence or resort to extra-judicial methods, as was warned by the same judge, to solve his problem.
Not long ago, in the All India Judges Association case in 1992, the SC had raised the common man’s hopes by setting exalting standards for judges. It had said, “The conduct of every judicial officer should be above reproach. He should be conscientious, studious, thorough, courteous, patient, punctual, just, impartial, fearless of public clamour, regardless of public praise, and indifferent to private, political or partisan influences.”
It added, “He should administer justice according to law, and deal with his appointment as public trust, he should not allow other affairs or his private interests to interfere with the prompt and proper performance of his judicial duties, nor should he administer the office for purpose of advancing his personal ambitions or increasing his popularity.”
No doubt, a majority of judges attempted to adhere to most of these qualities and were regarded as persons of “unimpeachable integrity”. And this was reflected in then CJI Sam Piroj Bharucha‘s speech at Kollam, Kerala, on December 22, 2002: “More than 80% of judges in this country, across the board, are honest and incorruptible. It is that smaller percentage that brings the entire judiciary into disrepute. To make it known that judiciary does not tolerate corruption in its ranks, it is requisite that corrupt judges should be investigated and dismissed from service.”
Present CJI, Justice S H Kapadia, declared on Friday, when the SC delivered the stinging judgment on the Allahabad HC, “I will prove that within the current system, in the next two years, when I am Chief Justice of India, that good judges can be appointed.”
Will the CJI’s assertion help lift the credibility of the present collegium system of appointment of judges, which many consider opaque. There may be pitfalls. If Justice Bharucha’s statement was interpreted as an admittance of prevailing level of corruption in judiciary, then Justice Kapadia’s assertion could also be understood to be a remark that certain appointments under the “current system”, prior to his becoming CJI, were not “good”.
Whatever be the interpretations, the task appears to be cut out for Justice Kapadia in the wake of the SC judgment indicting several judges of the Allahabad HC.
If he wants to lift the spirits of 20 crore people of Uttar Pradesh, then he must prepare for some drastic action to cut out the cancer of corruption threatening the justice delivery system in the state, graphically pointed out by a Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra. We can only wish him luck.
- Something rotten in Allahabad HC: Supreme Court (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Judicial corruption: Pulling punches (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Eight chief justices were corrupt: Ex-law minister (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Eight of 16 CJIs were ‘corrupt’: Ex-law minister (topinews.com)
- Bar chorus for court clean-up (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Who will judge the judges? (indialawyers.wordpress.com)
- Something is rotten in Allahabad High Court: Katju (thehindu.com)
- Supreme Court pulls up Allahabad High Court judges (thehindu.com)
- CBI probed ex-CJI’s role in 2004 Noida plot scam (ibnlive.in.com)