Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, May 16, 2003
Industry & Economy - Economic Offences
Columns - Offhand
TOO many instances of judges being implicated in scandals of various kinds are surfacing all over the country for the people to be convinced of the effectiveness of the self-regulatory approach strongly favoured by the Supreme Court.
Its recent judgment denying access to the public to the report of inquiry into the allegations of sexual escapade on the part of some judges of the Karnataka High Court further circumscribes the role that a vigilant citizenry can play in enforcing judicial accountability.
Publicity to such inquiry reports is the most effective deterrent against commission of future violence to the strictest norms of judicial propriety, prudence and probity. It is just bad luck that the Supreme Court could not be persuaded to see it that way.
The Conference of Chief Justices of High Courts, under the leadership of the Supreme Court, adopted in 1997 a "Restatement of the Values of Judicial Life".
The title itself is interesting, suggesting that it was something slightly less rigorous and formal than a binding code of conduct. It also implied that only existing values were being restated. There is no reference in those values to the need for judges to be totally above any temptation or allurement whatsoever which the executive is apt to dangle before them.
For instance, there has as yet been no debate among members of the judicial fraternity or the Bar Association on the propriety of judges accepting posts such as those of Governors, Ministers, membership of State or Central legislatures or chairs of various Government bodies with attractive salaries and perks. To what degree expectation of favours dispensed by the Government compromises the independence of the judiciary is a moot question.
Independence has both an external and internal salient. Most often, it connotes judges being free from external pressures. But what about pressures from within the judicial hierarchy itself?
The other day a boyhood friend of mine who had held high judicial position and retired some 15 years ago was recounting to me the attempts made by some senior judges to prevail upon him to adjudge particular pending cases in a particular manner.
The restated values do not include a specific prohibition against such tendencies of interference from within the judiciary in ongoing cases.
Whether the number of advocates elevated to the Bench should be high in relation to career judicial officers is yet another issue that needs to be squarely and boldly faced.
Almost all cases of judicial misconduct that have so far come to light have involved elevated advocates, whereas instances of career judicial officers deviating from "values" have been rare.
Is it that some judges appointed from among practising advocates are unable to break out of life-styles and habits of mind that had persisted till well past their prime? If so, one way of ensuring judicial integrity may be to increase the proportion of career judicial officers across the board.
B. S. Raghavan
Stories in this Section
The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | The Hindu eBooks | Home |
Copyright © 2003, The
Hindu Business Line. Republication or redissemination of the contents of
this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of
The Hindu Business Line