SC judge-lawyer link raises query

Supreme Court of India


The code of conduct for judges states that close association with individual members of the bar, particularly those who practice in the same court, shall be eschewed.A piquant situation has arisen in the Supreme Court as a senior advocate regularly appears before judges – who are also office bearers of an organisation of which this former apex court bar association (SCBA) president is the secretary general.A Supreme Court advocate J.N. Taneja, has made a written complaint to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union law minister, alleging that senior advocate Pravin H. Parekh appears before the same judges who are office bearers of the International Institute of Human Rights Society.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.H. Kapadia and Justice Altmas Kabir are president and vice-president of the International Institute of Human Rights Society respectively, while Parekh is the permanent secretary general of this body.Taneja, in his letter, has also attached list of various Chief Justices of India and Supreme Court judges – who have been office bearers of the human rights society from the year 2000 onwards.The names mentioned in the list included former CJI A.S. Anand, Justice Santosh Hegde, CJI Kapadia and Justice Kabir. CJI Kapadia has been the president of the institute from 2006 onwards, according to the complaint. Taneja has requested the Prime Minister to have this matter enquired into and stated that it is not proper for judges to allow Parekh to appear before them and vice versa. The institute’s registered office, as mentioned before the Registrar of Societies – 134, Lawyers Chambers, Supreme Court compound – is also the personal chamber of Parekh.

This address is also mentioned on Parekh’s personal letterhead, on which he has issued invitation letters to many, including senior judges. The cases filed by Parekh before the court also mention the same address. The litigants can get influenced by this, alleged the complainant. Justice R.S. Sodhi (retd) said the judges have to isolate themselves and stop being members of such institutes. They should be out of this as judiciary is already under tremendous gaze for allegations, right from nepotism to favouritism. The lawyers make judges chairman and president of such organisations just to get close to them, he said.

Former law minister Shanti Bhushan, however, stated that conflict arises only if some power is exercised or influence wielded; here the purpose of the institute is promotion of activities related to law.

In the meantime, the record of SC proceedings of November 10 and 11, 2010, accessed by Mail Today revealed that Parekh’s name figures in the list of advocates (WP343/10) in the case of Jaya Prada vs Union of India and Amar Singh vs Union of India (WP 317/2010). These cases were heard by Justice Kabir and Justice Cyriac Joseph. Similarly on January 10, 2011, Parekh appeared for respondents in a case, CIT Mumbai vs Pankaj Mehta, before the CJI and other judges. And on February 25, 2011, Parekh again appeared for respondents (Commissioner of Income Tax vs Chandravadan K. Bagdia) before CJI, Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar.Parekh, when contacted, said there is no conflict of interest as bar and bench are two wheels of a chariot and have to work together.

“This institute was founded by Justice R.S. Pathak, former CJI and I am the secretary general for the last 20 years. The purpose is judicial reforms and promotion of human rights,” he said. “There is no question of influencing as no one can take a favour from a judge, they are made of sterner stuff. Yes, judges have been members of this institute and I have been appearing before them but no judge has ever objected,” Parekh said. The restatement of values of judicial life or the code of conduct doesn’t bar judges from becoming members of a society or association connected with the law but it asks to shun association with those who practice in the same court.




2 thoughts on “SC judge-lawyer link raises query

  1. Judges being part of the Non-profit organisations to promote law is not morally objectionable. Its look like Gentalman who complained must have some personal agenda to be settled. If the memebers of the Bar and Bench co-ordinate to promote standerds of profession then one should not object. If named Sr adv has plenty of briefs then we can not expect him to return the cases because some judges are memebers of such organisation. I think complaint is motivated out of personal grudge.

  2. Judges have by necessity to remain, upright and stark and hence they cannt afford to keep association with any person, be it a politician, bureaucrar, minister or lawyer. they have enough of work at the bench if they mean to do and deliver. further their being member of any orgnisation or association is simply ornamental and kluxurious. Except giving owners of such organisation so boast and some pride, and some publicity, the judge would be able to do nothing. Hence while on the bench the Judge should avoid all such associations, meetings, get-togathers and gatherings. He should concentrate on disposing of the heaping cases, which he allows to heap at his interest and then shout at the roof tops that the courts are overburdened with cases and there is paucity of judges. What is needed is work culture of judges,objectivity in judgements, democracy in courts and their accountability.

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