The seven deadly sins of judges

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

BY JUSTICE RUMA PAL PUBLISHED IN THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Judges are fierce in using the word [“independence”] as a sword to take action in contempt against critics. But the word is also used as a shield to cover a multitude of sins, some venial and others not so venial. Any lawyer practising before a court will, I am sure, have a rather long list of these. I have chosen seven.

The first is the sin of “brushing under the carpet”, or turning a Nelsonian eye. Many judges are aware of injudicious conduct of a colleague but have either ignored it or refused to confront the judge concerned, and suppressed any public discussion on the issue, often through the great silencer — the law of contempt.

The second sin is that of “hypocrisy”. A favourite rather pompous phrase in judgments is “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”, or words to similar effect. And yet judges who enforce the law for others often break that law with impunity. This includes traffic regulations, and another regulation to which the “ordinary” citizen is subject. Some in fact get offended if their car is held up by the police at all while controlling the flow of traffic — the feeling of offence sometimes being translated into action, by issuance of a rule of contempt against the hapless police constable, all in the name of judicial independence.

The third sin is that of secrecy. The normal response of courts to any enquiry as to their functioning is to temporise, stonewall and prevaricate. As I have said elsewhere, the process by which a judge is appointed to the high court or elevated to the Supreme Court is one of the best-kept secrets in the country…

If “independence” is taken to mean “capable of thinking for oneself”, then the fourth sin is plagiarism and prolixity. I club the two together because the root cause is often the same, namely the prolific and often unnecessary use of passages from textbooks and decisions of other judges — without acknowledgement in the first case, and with acknowledgement in the latter. Many judgments are in fact mere compendia or digests of decisions on a particular issue, with very little original reasoning in support of the conclusion.

Often judges misconstrue judicial independence as judicial and administrative indiscipline. Both of these in fact stem from judicial arrogance as to one’s intellectual ability and status…. Intellectual arrogance, or what some may call intellectual dishonesty, is manifest when judges decide without being bound by principles of stare decisis or precedent…

Independence implies discipline to decide objectively and with intellectual integrity and as the judicial oath of office requires, without fear, favour, affection or ill will. Most importantly judges must be perceived as so deciding, or to use Lord Hewart’s classic dicta that “justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done,” because the belief of corruption is as damaging to the credibility in the independence of the judiciary as the act of corruption.

This brings me to the seventh and final sin of nepotism or what the oath of office calls “favour” and “affection”. What is required of a judge is a degree of aloofness and reclusiveness not only vis-a-vis litigants but also vis-a-vis lawyers. Litigants include the executive. Injudicious conduct includes known examples such as judges using a guesthouse of a private company or a public sector undertaking for a holiday or accepting benefits like the allocation of land from the discretionary quota of a chief minister. I can only emphasise again that nothing destroys a judge’s credibility more than a perception that he/she decides according to closeness to one of the parties to the litigation or what has come to be described in the corridors of courts as “face value”.

…I will conclude with most important facet of judicial independence. Judicial independence cannot exist without accountability. At present the only disciplinary power over judges is vested in Parliament which provides for the extreme punishment of removal for acts of proven misbehaviour by or incapacity of a judge…

Deprivation of jurisdiction or the non-allocation of work to a dishonest judge was resorted to by Chief Justice Sabyasachi Mukherjee when the impeachment of Justice V. Ramaswamy failed for political reasons. Sometimes Chief Justices control a recalcitrant judge by ensuring that the judge concerned sits with the Chief Justice or with a “strong” judge until he or she retires. The situation becomes more difficult if the allegations are against the Chief Justice. Solutions evolved have proved inadequate and ad hoc. There is a need for an effective mechanism for enforcing judicial accountability…

 Pal is a former Supreme Court judge, Extracted from the V.M. Tarkunde memorial lecture, delivered on November 10

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-judges/874657/0

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National Green Tribunal

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The Government has appointed four Expert Members and two Judicial Members in the National Green Tribunal (NGT). A Selection Committee as per the details given below has been constituted under Rule 3 of NGT (Manner of Appointment of Judicial and Expert Members, Salaries, Allowances and other Terms and Conditions of Service of Chairperson and other Members and procedure for Inquiry) Rules, 2010 dated 26.11.2010, framed under NGT Act, 2010:

(1)        Sitting Judge of Supreme Court nominated by the Chief Justice of India in consultation with Ministry of Law and Justice– Chaiperson
(2)        Chairperson of the NGT                                                                                         Member
(3)        Secretary to Government of India, M/o Environment & Forests       Member
(4)        Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur                                    Member
(5)        Director, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmadabad                        Member
(6)        President, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi                                    Member

 During the first phase of selection process of Members in the Tribunal, the following criteria were applied on the applicants who initially fulfilled the eligibility under Section 5 of the NGT Act, 2010 for further screening of applications:

For Judicial Member

No sitting/former Judge of the High Court will be considered for appointment to the post of ‘Judicial Member’ of the Tribunal if he has retired prior to one year or still has more than one year in service, both computed from the date of advertisement. It is in the interest of the Tribunal and administration of Justice as well that a person appointed should have reasonable tenure to be the Member of the Tribunal and discharge his functions effectively.

The other terms are the Judge concerned should have preferably performed judicial work relating to Environment Laws, the comments of the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, may also be invited in relation to judges short-listed for appointments as ‘Judicial Member’ of the Tribunal and the applicants who are presently working as Member of any Tribunal or have got an assignment post-retiral will not be considered.

 For Expert Member

(a)        No serving/retired Government employee will be considered for appointment to the post of ‘expert Member’ of the Tribunal if he has retired prior to one year or still has more than one year in service, both computed from the date of advertisement .It is in the interest of the Tribunal and administration of justice as well that a person appointed should have reasonable tenure to be the Member of the Tribunal and discharge his functions effectively.

 (b)        The ‘Expert Member’ besides satisfying the qualifications prescribed under Section 5 read with Rule 5 should have requisite experience relatable to expertise in the environmental management.

 (c)        The Ministry to also examine whether there is any serious conflict of interest between the applicant and the Ministry/ Administrative interest of the Tribunal

 (d)       The applicants who have opted for deputation only and are below the rank of Additional Secretary to the Government of India would not be considered.

 This information was given by the Minister of State for Environment and Forests (independent charge) Shrimati Jayanthi Natarajan in a written reply to a question by Dr. Arvind Kumar Sharma in Lok Sabha today.

Justices delayed: SC down, Judge vacancies pile up

INDIAN EXPRESS

At a time when the collegium system of appointment of Judges is under attack, the Supreme Court — with over 50,000 cases pending before it — will soon be working at less than 75 per cent of its total sanctioned strength of Judges. By October 15, seven Judges of the apex court will retire, the largest number of retirements in a single year since Independence.

And that’s just the position in the country’s highest court. The biggest court in India, Allahabad High Court, has been functioning with just 62 of its total 160 approved strength of Judges, as reported by The Indian Express (nine more will join tomorrow). The Gujarat HC, with a sanctioned strength of 42, has 18 vacancies; while Punjab and Haryana HC has just 43 Judges, against a sanctioned strength of 68.

In all, data compiled by the government shows, of the total 895 posts of Judges sanctioned in the 21 HCs in the country, only 610 are currently filled — a gap of 285. This year, in fact, saw the highest number of posts falling vacant in HCs in a calendar year since 1990. However, only 41 new appointments have been made so far in 2011.

The subordinate judiciary is not much better placed. Data collected by the Supreme Court says that as of December 31, 2010, out of the sanctioned strength of 17,151 posts in states and Union Territories, 3,170 were vacant, with Bihar (389 vacancies), Gujarat (361), Uttar Pradesh (294) and Maharashtra (234) leading the list.

Even though the Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia has recommended three names — two HC Chief Justices and one Judge of Bombay HC — even if they are able to take oath by October 15, the number of vacancies in the apex court will still be six out of 31.

“Even though at every meeting of chief ministers and Chief Justices, the judiciary is requested to recommended names for elevation to the Bench at least three months before an anticipated vacancy, it is never done. Today, except for the Himachal Pradesh High Court, there is no court that is working at full strength. Though the sanctioned strength of the Jammu and Kashmir HC is 14, the court is functioning with just seven judges. In most cases, the HC collegium has not met even once in the last one year to recommend names,” said a senior government functionary. Sikkim, the country’s smallest court with a sanctioned strength of three judges, has just one judge, who was designated Acting Chief Justice after the resignation of Justice P D Dinakaran last month.

The other HCs with a significant number of vacancies are Andhra Pradesh (16), Bombay (14), Calcutta (14), Rajasthan (13) and Chhattisgarh (12). The highest number of appointments made in a single year was 110 in 2006 when Justice Y K Sabharwal was the CJI and H R Bhardwaj the Union law minister.

Celebration of 150 Years of Calcutta High Court

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Following is the text of the speech of Dr. M. Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law & Justice on the occasion of the celebration of 150 years of Calcutta High Court:

“The High Court at Calcutta, formerly known as the High Court of Judicature at Fort William was brought into existence by the Letters Patent dated 14th May, 1862 issued under the High Court’s Act, 1861 and was formally opened on 1st July, 1862. The jurisdiction and powers of the High Court were to be defined by the Letters Patent. The existence of the Calcutta High Court is important to us as it was the first High Court and one of the three Chartered High Courts to be set up in India, along with the High Courts of Bombay and Madras

Sir Barnes Peacock was the first Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court in 1862. Subsequently, Justice Shri Sumboo Nath Pandit was appointed as the first Indian to assume office of the High Court on 2nd February, 1863. He was followed by other legal luminaries such as Justice Shri Dwarka Nath Mitter, Justice Shri Ramesh Chandra Mitter, Justice Sir Chunder Madhab Ghosh, Justice Sir Gooroodas Banerji, Justice Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee. Justice Shri P.B. Chakravartti was the first Indian to become a permanent Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court.

The High Court started with strength of 13 Judges and by the year 1955, its strength raised to 20 Judges. In the year 1958, the strength was fixed at 24 which was increased to 32 in 1966, 39 in 1969 and 41 in 1974. Till 1994, the strength of the High Court remained 46 when in 1993, the Supreme Court directed that the Judge strength of every High Court should be reviewed periodically with reference to the felt-need for disposal of cases, taking into account the backlog and expected future filing. Accordingly, the Judge strength of the High Courts, including the Calcutta High Court is being reviewed every three years. In 1995 the Judge strength of the Calcutta High Court was fixed at 48 and after review in 1999 it increased to 50 Judges. As per the latest review undertaken in 2007, the Judge strength of the Calcutta High Court has been revised to 58 Judges.

The Union Government is keen on the reduction in the pendency in the High Courts and has, therefore, launched a campaign from today to reduce pendency in the High Courts. One of the measures in reduction of the pendency is to have as many Judges in position as possible. Calcutta High Court has, against the sanctioned strength of 58, only 46 Judges in position. Though the Chief Justice has recommended names of 7 persons they are pending with the Central Government for want of comments of the State Government. I would urge upon the State Government to consider the recommendation made by the Chief Justice and send their comments at the earliest so that the vacancies could be filled up during the campaign period itself, thereby helping in disposal of more number of pending cases.

I am told that the High Court building is an exact replica of the Stand Haus in Ypres, Belgium. It is also recorded that when the original Stand Haus burnt down, a blue print of Granville’s Calcutta High Court had to be consulted before rebuilding it. The neo-Gothic High Court building was constructed in 1872, ten years after the establishment of the court itself. Government of India feels that unless the infrastructure is perfect, it is not possible for the High Courts to function smoothly. The 13th Finance Commission has awarded Rs. 5000 Crores to improve the justice delivery system in the country during the period of 5 years starting 2010-11. A sum of Rs. 19.70 Crores has been set aside out of this allocation for renovation of the Calcutta High Court Building, this being a heritage building. Further to this, the Union Government has, under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, released a sum of Rs. 425.26 lakhs to West Bengal Government for developing infrastructural facilities for the judiciary.

The Government in the Centre is also keen on bringing the justice to the doorsteps of the masses for which the Gram Nayayalaya Act, 2008 has been enacted which has come in force w.e.f 2nd October, 2009. Under the Act, assistance is provided to the States towards (i) establishing the Gram Nyayalayas @ Rs. 18 lakh per Gram Nyayalaya and (ii) meeting recurring costs involved in operating these Gram Nyayalayas @ Rs. 3.20 lakhs per annum per Gram Nyayalaya for the first three years. I would request the Government of West Bengal to take steps for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas. I would like to mention here that we have received representations from some of the States that the grant being provided for the Gram Nyayalayas is not adequate. We are working on these representations also for increasing the grants from establishment of the Gram Nyayalayas and will make an announcement shortly in this regard.

In our pursuit to bring justice to the people of West Bengal within their reach, the Central Cabinet had taken a decision in June, 2006 for setting up of a Bench of the Calcutta High Court at Jalpaiguri. The infractural facilities for setting up of the Bench need to be provided by the State Government. We have been reminding the West Bengal Government in this regard. I would request them to pay attention to this project and provide infrastructural facilities at Jalpaiguri to the satisfaction of the Chief Justice which will go a long way in mitigating the miseries of the litigants.

A Mission Mode Programme was launched on 26th January, 2010 titled “National Mission for Delivery of Justice and Legal Reforms for the Under Trials” with the aim to reduce the number of under-trial cases and to ease congestion in jails. This programme was undertaken for considering the cases of 2/3rd of the undertrials estimated to be about 3 lakhs in January, 2010, who were languishing in jails. I am happy to announce that the results of this drive was extremely successful with cases of over 7 lakh prisoners having being decided by the end of May, 2011 of which over 1.72 lakhs were from West Bengal. I hope this must have brought relief to as many families also.

I am happy that the Calcutta High Court Bar Association is taking active part in the activities of the Calcutta High Court. I hope they would continue to work for the betterment of the society by getting them early justice through Courts which would also help in reduction of the pendency in the Courts for which a campaign has been launched today. On the occasion of the 150th year of the Calcutta High Court, I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the Calcutta Bar Association for organising this function.”

TIME TO MAKE A START

Thirteen ways to cleanse the system

RAMACHANDRA GUHA IN THE TELEGRAPH

In an article published 50 years ago, the great Indian democrat, Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari, deplored “the unconscionable and grievous expenditure on elections, which gives overwhelming advantage to money-power.” Rajaji argued that “elections now are largely, so to say, private enterprise, whereas this is the one thing that should be first nationalized.” Towards this end, he recommended that the government issue voter cards, take votes not at fixed destinations but at mobile booths that went from home to home and hamlet to hamlet, and provide State funding to parties and contestants.

In the decades since Rajaji wrote, money-power has become even more pervasive and influential. A candidate for Parliament requires crores of rupees to fight an election. These costs are obtained through party funds, which rest not (as they should) on membership fees and small voluntary donations, but on commissions creamed off government contracts, and on bribes given by industrialists to whom the parties have granted favours. The funds provided to (or gathered by) contestants are then used to seek to bribe voters. The money spent in fighting elections is recovered many-fold in case the party or contestant wins.

In Rajaji’s time, a minority of politicians (perhaps 20 per cent or so) were corrupt. And virtually none were criminals. Now, certainly less than 20 per cent of politicians in power are completely honest; and somewhat more than 20 per cent have criminal records. That said, the electoral system itself is relatively transparent. Sterling work by successive election commissioners — such as T.N. Seshan, J.M. Lyngdoh, N. Gopalaswami and S.Y. Quraishi — have largely put an end to the practice, widespread in the 1970s and 1980s, of capturing booths, doctoring ballot papers and ensuring that those who were not likely to vote in your favour were kept away from the electoral process. Also on the positive side, voter turnout remains high, far higher, in fact, than in older and otherwise more mature democracies. Besides, the poor vote in larger numbers than the middle-class and the rich.

Indian elections, then, are by no means a farce; but they are surely in need of reform. They need to be made independent of money-power, and less captive to the interests of crooks and criminals. Recognizing this, the ministry of law and the Election Commission have been holding a series of meetings in different parts of India, soliciting views on how best to reform the electoral system. Asked to speak at the meeting in Bangalore, I took as my manifesto (the word is inescapable) a submission prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms, a remarkable organization that has single-handedly made electoral malpractice and the criminalization of politics topics of national debate. (It was a public interest litigation filed by the founding members of the ADR that resulted in a Supreme Court judgment making mandatory the declaration of assets and criminal records of all those seeking to contest assembly and parliamentary elections.)

The note submitted by the ADR to the ministry of law and the Election Commission makes 27 recommendations in all. These are listed in detail on the ADR website. I will here highlight 13 recommendations, which I shall divide into two categories — those that are immediately practicable, and can be put in place at once; and those that are highly desirable, and can perhaps be tested first in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and then implemented in subsequent parliamentary and assembly elections.

The seven proposals made by the ADR that can be implemented with immediate effect are:

1. Barring criminals from politics: A person charged with serious offences like murder, rape, kidnapping, or extortion, against whom charges have been framed by the police or the courts and which are punishable by sentences exceeding two years’ imprisonment should be prohibited from contesting elections. To prevent vendetta by political opponents, the law can specify that such action will be taken only if the case and charges were filed six or perhaps even nine months before the date of the election which the person wishes to contest;

2. Sources of income: Along with the declaration of assets and liabilities (now mandatory), candidates for state and national elections should also make public their yearly income and its sources;

3. Appointments of election commissioners: At the national level, this should be done by a multi-party committee consisting of the prime minister, the leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India. Likewise, state election commissioners should be chosen by a committee comprising the chief minister, the leader of the Opposition, the assembly Speaker, and the chief justice of the relevant high court. Further, to obviate bias and harassment, the chief election commissioner of the state should be a person from outside the state cadre;

4. Provision for negative voting: The electronic voting machines, while listing the names and affiliations of candidates, should have, as a final option, ‘None of the above’;

5. Bar on post-retirement jobs: All election commissioners should be barred from accepting government posts of any kind for a period of five years after their retirement, and from joining a political party for a further five years;

6. Financial transparency: It should be made mandatory for political parties to declare accounts annually, indicating their sources of funding, patterns of expenditure, etc;

7. Curbs on publicity at public expense: Six months prior to the expiry of the House, the government should be forbidden from taking out advertisements in the media trumpeting their achievements (real or imagined);

Six further proposals made by the ADR, which can be made operational in the next few years are:

1. The winning margin of candidates should be at least one vote more than 50 per cent of those cast. If no candidate gets a majority of votes, then the two top candidates in a constituency can ‘run-off’ against one another;

2. Elections should be funded by the state. The mechanics of this process have to be carefully worked out, to establish how much money is allocated to state parties, how much to national parties, how much to independent candidates, etc. But surely a committee composed of a selection of India’s many world-class economists can work out a formula that is both efficient and equitable;

3. The internal reform of political parties such that they have (a) regular elections (based on secret ballots); (b) term limits for office bearers;

4. The classification of political parties as public authorities, so that their finances and other activities come under the provision of the Right to Information Act;

5. The prompt detection of those who bribe voters with gifts of alcohol, televisions, etc., and their punishment by having their candidacy set aside;

6. The provision of annual reports to constituents by MPs and MLAs.

In recent months, the issue of political corruption has dominated the headlines — from the Commonwealth Games through the 2G scandal and the mining and real estate scams on to the controversy over the lok pal bill. Public discussion has been high on indignation and low on constructive proposals for reform. The document prepared by the ADR is an excellent starting point to move the debate from rhetoric to substance, from talk to action. For, to cleanse the election system is to cleanse the political class, and, thereby, the process of governance itself.

ramachandraguha@yahoo.in

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110604/jsp/opinion/story_14054369.jsp

Recent Initiatives of the Government for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms

The Government is taking various initiatives to improve justice delivery system in the country and for improving justice delivery and legal reforms and steps to reduce pendency in courts from 15 to 3 years by 2012. These are as under:

National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms: The Government has ‘in principle’ approved setting up of National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms. The National Mission would help implementing the two major goals of

(i) increasing access by reducing delays and arrears in the system

(ii) enhancing accountability at all levels through structural changes and setting performance standards and facilitating enhancement of capacities for achieving such performance standards.

The Law Minister has on 28th April 2011 personally written to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the High Courts on the launching of a campaign mode approach for pendency reduction and filling up of vacancies in Subordinate & High Courts. The campaign will be from June-December, 2011 and after a review, will be extended for another 6 months.

Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010: To bring about greater transparency and accountability in the higher judiciary, the Government has introduced a Bill in the Parliament to lay down judicial standards, to enable declaration of assets and liabilities by the Judges, and to establish a mechanism to enable investigation and follow-up action into complaints against judges. The Bill has been referred to the Standing Committee on 1st December, 2010 and is presently under its consideration.

13th Finance Commission grant: With the objective of improving justice delivery, the Thirteenth Finance Commission (TFC) has recommended a grant of Rs. 5000 crore to be utilized over a period of five years up to 2010-2015. An amount of Rs.1000 crore has been released to State Governments in the year 2010-11. This grant is aimed at providing support to improve judicial outcomes. Many States have already formulated State Litigation Policies as per the requirement for further release of TFC grant.

National Litigation Policy : The Government has already announced a National Litigation Policy effective from 1st July, 2010 to to reduce government litigation in Courts so that valuable court time would be spent in resolving other pending cases so as to achieve the goal in the national legal mission to reduce average pendency time from 15 years to 3 years.

ICT enablement of courts: The Government has implemented a central sector scheme for computerization of the District and Subordinate Courts (e-Courts project) in the country and for upgradation of the ICT infrastructure of the Supreme Court and the High Courts, at a cost of Rs. 935 crore for the first phase which will connect 14,249 courts in the country including video conferencing facilities.

Access to Justice for the marginalized section: Provision of legal aid enables the marginalized sections of the society in accessing justice. To strengthen Legal aid authorities a sum of Rs 200 crores had been provided under the TFC grants. The mission launched for release of under trial prisoners last year had appreciable results and is continuing. In the period 26 January 2010 to 31 May 2011, 562379 under trials have been released on bail, 77940 have been discharged, 68744 convicted, adding to a total of 709081 cases that have been disposed off. Software to trace cases of under trials by courts is also under consideration for integration into the e-courts software.

Gram Nyayalayas : The Gram Nyayalayas Act, 2008 was enacted to provide for the establishment of Gram Nyayalayas, a new tier of courts, at the grass-root level for the purpose of providing access to justice to the citizens at their doorsteps and to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen. The Act came into force on 2 October 2009 and enables the State Governments to establish Gram Nyayalayas at Intermediate Panchayat levels.  The Central Government provides assistance to the State Governments for establishment of Gram Nyayalayas(Rs. 18 lakhs/court) and Rs. 3.20 lakhs per court per annum for the first 3 years towards recurring expenses. About 144 Gram Nyaylalays have been set up(notified) in the States of Madhya Pradesh (89), Rajasthan (45), Orissa (1), Maharashtra (9), till date of which 47 are operational – 40 in Madhya Pradesh, 1 in Orissa, and 6 in Maharashtra. Out of the budgeted Rs. 150 crores for Gram Nyayalayas, Rs. 20.92 crores have been disbursed to the 4 states which have notified the Nyayalayas.

Family Courts: The Government has pursued with the States the matter of setting up of Family Courts, providing 50% of the cost of construction and Rs 5 lakh annually. 211 such courts have been set up in 23 states.

Increase in the age of retirement of Judges of High Courts: The Government has introduced ‘the Constitution (One Hundred and Fourteenth) Amendment Bill, 2010’ in the Lok Sabha on 25th August, 2010 for increasing the age of retirement of Judges of the High Courts from 62 to 65 years. It aims at retaining the judges for three more years which would avoid occurrence of new vacancies on account of superannuation and result in continuance of judges to clear the backlog of cases in the High Courts. The Bill has been examined by the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances and Law and Justice is to be slated for discussion in the Parliament.

Infrastructure Development at Subordinate courts: In the financial year 2011-12, the allocation for the Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Infrastructure Development has been increased 5 folds from Rs.100 crores to Rs. 500 crores.

Setting up of a Legal e-Library: The Government is finalizing the setting up a ‘National Legal e-library’ focusing on 933 law schools in India. ,It is expected to benefit the students and practitioners of Law. It is proposed to get operationalised on 15 August 2011.

Rajiv Gandhi Advocate’s Training Scheme: The Rajiv Gandhi Adhivakta Prashikshan Yojna to be launched on 27June 2011, will select about 10 practicing advocates from each state and impart a two-month long professional training by a National Law School/College – to them and encourage them to to serve the need of law professionals at the grass root level.

Creation of All India Judicial services: The proposed to set up an All India Judicial Service is awaiting Cabinet approval. This service is expected to attract the best of talent to the judiciary.

Comprehensive Electoral Reforms:

• The Government has held 6 Regional Consultation on Electoral Reforms. The seventh is scheduled on 12 June 2011 in Guwahati to be followed By the National Consultation in New Delhi on 2-3 July 2011. Following this, Comprehensive Amendments will be brought about to the Electoral System.

• The Government has also passed legislation and has enabled NRI Voting.

• The Maximum limits of Election Expenses have been increased for both Parliament and Assembly Elections.

Andhra: HC fines advocate for frivolous plea

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HYDERABAD: A division bench of the AP High Court has directed a petitioner to pay Rs1 lakh as fine to the AP State Legal Services Authority within 30 days for filing a frivolous petition.The division bench comprising Chief Justice Nisar Ahmad Kakru and Justice Vilas V Afzulpukar while hearing a public interest litigation filed by a practising Supreme Court advocate Chandrasekhara Reddy seeking the removal of Justice C V Nagarjuna Reddy, wondered how could the subject be in public interest and left it to the wisdom of the Bar Council of India and the State Bar Council to look into whether the stand taken by the petitioner amounted to misconduct and find out if any action could be taken against him. The advocate filed the petition challenging the continuance of the judge who had resigned during an agitation by the Telangana advocates. The advocates had resorted to a violent agitation demanding 42 per cent reservations for those from Telangana in judicial posts.The court, in its judgement delivered recently, criticised the failure of the petitioner to express regrets on the role of some of the advocates, who hurt the dignity and independence of the bar and the bench.Taking the view that if the unhealthy practice of filing petitions against judges on frivolous grounds goes unchecked, judiciary cannot be expected to discharge its constitutional duty without fear, the bench said fearless administration of justice may be become a myth rather than a reality.

http://expressbuzz.com/states/andhrapradesh/andhra-hc-fines-advocate-for-frivolous-plea/232777.html