Judges should come clean

By Dr. Mookhi Amir Ali,

The Law Minister Veerappa Moily and the Chief Justice of India are keen on safeguarding Judges against public probity by clause 6 in the proposed Judges [Declaration of Assets and Liabilities] Bill 2009. While the bill mandates the judges to declare their assets, the clause 6 in it keeps such declaration outside the purview of the Right to Information [RTI] act.

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The Chief Justice of India is agreeable to judges declaring their assets and liabilities to him [competent authority] but not to the general public through RTI act. He calls it a potential instrument of harassment of Judges by disgruntled litigants with vexatious litigation and the belittlement of judges with unproven smear.

Supreme Court

Now, if one out of every five judges is dishonest, isn’t the institution, which demands a hundred percent incorruptibility, rotten from within? How can any member of the public be sure of being judged by a judge who has not sold his soul? Why will not every litigant be disgruntled? Why will there be no smears?

Instead of shielding the judges from the scrutiny of the aggrieved populace, the CJI and the Law Ministry should get busy identifying the rotten apples among the judges to bring them to book. There is on their table the Punjab government’s secret vigilance report which was submitted to Chief Justice of India over a year ago. The report indicates that cases in the Punjab and Haryana High Court have been fixed for consideration. The report also states that touts have been bragging about manipulating lower courts appointments and distribution of cases. The Punjab Governor has re-sent copies of the report to CJI’s office and to the PMO in March 2009. At least till June 2009 the report has only been resting on the shelves. Why should not the Law ministry go cracking after the black sheep?

This country is traditionally very reverential of the judiciary. Panch is called Parmeshwar, where Panch stands for justice dispensing five elders of a village and Parmeshwar is the God Almighty. Once a person sits on judgment he is trusted to have taken up God’s mantle and his utterance is taken as God’s own word.The CJI of India K.G. Balakrishnan should not worry about frivolous accusations or smear campaign against members of the judiciary from the Indian people. He should concentrate on restoring people’s faith in the judiciary. He may impress upon the judges the need to change their image and the need for total transparency as the first step.

The Law minister, instead of trying to manipulate consensus on keeping the objectionable clause must introduce the bill after deleting clause 6.