Judicial Accountability in India

Judicial Accountability

S.O.S – eVoice For Justice – e-news weekly

Spreading the light of humanity & freedom

Editor: Nagaraj.M.R…vol.5.issue.46….14/11/2009

 

Editorial : Judicial Accountability in India

 

Kindly go through the following articles & provide justice by giving complete truthful information to us.

http://sites.google.com/site/sosevoiceforjustice/accountability-of-indian-judges ,

 

The constitution of India has prescribed certain FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES to each citizens of India. It is the duty of every citizen to protect & uphold the dignity , honour of our democratic institutions , to protect our national integrity , to respect & protect the rights of our fellow citizens. No constitutional authority has  the right to obstruct the discharge of these duties by citizens of India. No legal privileges of constitutional functionaries is superior over the FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES OF CITIZEN’S OF INDIA.

We need rights to perform our duties. Constitution of India has guaranteed those rights as FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS to all citizens of India & by birth itself everyone of us has secured HUMAN RIGHTS as individuals. To express ourselves , we need information , data feed back , to ascertain whether we are getting equal opportunity , whether we are getting equitable justice , etc , we need information . so , basically Right To Information  is an inalienable part of our fundamental rights & human rights. What RTI Act has done is fixed time limit , responsibilities of public servants up to  certain extent. However the citizen’s fundamental right & human right to seek information extends far beyond the scope of RTI Act.

Hereby , e-voice  seeks complete  truthful information from supreme court of India , with respect to my RTI application appeal no :  APPEAL NO. 91 / 2007. HEREBY , WE ARE ONLY SEEKING ACCOUNTABILITY OF PUBLIC SERVANTS  IN PUBLIC INTEREST & JUSTICE. Hereby ,  we at e-voice  request you to register this appeal as a PIL petition & to ascertain the stand of apex court on various matters raised in my RTI Application , in public interest & equitable justice.

he above stated public servants have failed to provide full information to us ie e-voice  as per RTI Act , thereby  covering up the criminals. The requested informations were no state secrets , no defense secrets but the accountability of above stated public offices. The information was requested  for public welfare , to secure equitable justice to public , to stop corrupt practices in public service , in exercise  of my FUNDAMENTAL DUTY as a citizen of India. However  the above stated public servants preferred to violate law themselves & to protect the criminals.

The public servants & the government must be role models in law abiding acts , for others to emulate & follow. if a student makes a mistake it is excusable & can be corrected by the teacher. if the teacher himself makes a mistake , all  his students will do the same mistake. if a thief steals , he can be caught  , legally punished & reformed . if a police himself commits crime , many thieves go scot-free under his patronage.  even if a police , public servant commits a crime , he can be legally prosecuted & justice can be sought by the aggrieved.

 

just think , if a judge himself that too apex court of the land itself commits crime – violations of RTI Act , constitutional rights & human rights of public  and obstructs the public from performing their constitutional fundamental duties , what happens ?

 

it gives a booster dose to the rich & mighty , those in power , criminals in public service to commit more crimes. that is exactly what is happening in india. the educated public must raise to the occasion & peacefully , democratically  must oppose this criminalization of judiciary , public service. then alone , we can build a RAM RAJYA OF MAHATMA GANDHI’S DREAM.

JAI HIND. VANDE MATARAM.

Your’s sincerely,

Nagaraj.M.R.

CRIMES COMMITTED BY LAW COURTS IN INDIA

– An appeal to honourable supreme court of india

 

Indian prisons are meant to be reforming schools for the prisoners. By the corrupt practices of the officials , the prisons have become  factories turning out  hardened criminals.

 

Say , a person was caught by police on  suspicion  of  pick-pocketing. The police produce the accussed before the magistrate , in turn he remands him for judicial custody. Let us consider , The punishment for this offence pick-pocketing as per law is 6 months imprisonment. However the case drags on for 3 years , finally the court finds him guilty of offence & orders for 6 months imprisonment. Totally, the offender serves 42 months imprisonment sentence in practice. In some cases , the courts consider the time already spent by the accussed behind the bars while giving judgement. In this example , even if the offender is let free taking 6 months imprisonment sentence, the offender has been given excess sentence of 36-6=30 months.

 

Taking the same example further, say the court finds  the accused as innocent, not guilty of crime & lets him free. However , the poor chap has suffered 36 months imprisonment for no fault of his.

 

As per law, no body not even the courts of law are legally empowered to punish anybody  beyond the legal procedures , rules established. In this way, due to delay in our legal system , faulty bail procedures , thousands of under-trials  are suffering in various prisons throught India. Arew not the courts which remanded those accused to judicial custody responsible for this illegal act of excessive punishment ? what punishment should be given to those judges ?

 

The bail procedure in India , is also faulty without considering quantum of offence & financial status of the accused. A person accused of stealing rs.100 has to provide bail surety bond of rs.5000 or personal surety by a wealthy  person / government servant. The poor person having personal contacts , friendship with rich persons / government servants is quite remote , so he can’nt secure bail on personal bond. The poor chaps family is not rich enough to spend rs.5000 surety amount. As a result, unable to secure bail the poor chap suffers in jail for years.

 

Say, a rich industrialist is accused of  rs.20 crores tax evasion, he is let free on a personal bond of rs.1 lakh. Stamp paper scam kingpin karim lala telgi  has swindled government to the tune of thousands of crores of rupees, only few cases are registered against him. That too in one out of those cases involving rs.45 lakh worth stamp sale , judge has given him rigorous imprisonment plus a fine of rs.50000.

 

Considering the above examples it is quite clear the bail amount, fine amount  are peanuts for the rich  just a fraction of quantum of their crime , while for the poor it is huge many times more than the quantum of their crime.. it is biased towards rich & mighty criminals. As a result poor always suffers in jail, while rich are out on bail.

 

Even within prisons , the number of prisoners per sq.ft area , no of doctors , hospital beds , medicines available, weight of food per day given to prisoners , are all less & much below the statuotary limits. The food , health care , living conditions of  prisoners , under-trials are worse than pigs. The prison authorities are utterly corrupt, which has been brought into light again & again by the media. If a poor prisoner questions the illegal acts of the officials , he is subjected to 3rd degree torture , roughed up by rowdy prisoners on the instigation of the officials themselves. Many poor prisoners are suffering from  health problems , many are dying due to lack of proper health care & food in the prisons.

 

Whereas , the rich & mighty prisoners , by payting bribe get non-veg  , alchoholic drinks from outside restaurants daily. They even secure drugs  . they get spacious VIP rooms , television , mobile phones. They easily get parole & easily gets admitted in outside hospitals & roam free , while on record they are in-patients in hospitals.

 

The law of limitation which stipulates time limits for filing various cases is also biased towards the government as a party & rich , mighty.  For the purposes of evidences , filing of cases one needs various government records. The concerned officials don’t provide those records for years unless bribed & sit over the files for years. Some times by making absurd , illogical file notings , rejects it back. There is no time limit  for the performance of duties by public servants. When a commoner don�t get relevant records , files , evidences in time , how can he file cases in time without those records , evidences ?

 

Nowadays , numerous cases of irregularities , charges of corruption against judges  are coming to light. However , in such cases  judges are asked to resign from service but no criminal prosecution against them is instituted , only in cases involving lower court judges it is done. When a case of irregularity by a judge in a specific present case comes , there are every possibility that in the past also he has committed the same in cases handled by him which has not come to light. In such instances , all the cases handled by that particular judge throught his career must be reviewed , but is not done why ? does not it amount to cover-ups ?

 

In many cases the higher courts have turned down the verdicts of the lower courts , let free the innocents , absolved innocents of charges & annulled death sentences when appeals came before  them.  However , in all such cases , the lower court judges  must be punished for  giving out wrong judgements, meating out injustice to innocents. Here a fact must be noted , only a fraction  of cases goes in appeal to higher courts, as in majority of cases the  poor people lack the financial might to make the appeal. The so-called  free legal services authority pre-judges the cases before giving legal aid. As a result , many innocents poor people resign to their fates suffer injustice in courts of law , undergo imprisonment punishment , some times even death sentence. So , the urgent need of the hour is to incorporate jury system or some outside monitoring system to review cases as & when decided.

 

In many cases involving the rich & mighty like telgi , case proceedings are conducted in-camera in judge’s chambers or proceedings are conducted through video conferencing . outside from public gaze. The tapes are not made public  and the public cann’t even ascertain the validity of tapes , whether it is edited , doctored .

 

One of the basic reasons for delayed justice  &  worse prison conditions in India , is low number of judges , police personnel , higher rate of case adjournments  and finally low amount of financial grants made by the government  to judicial department / police department. The government states that  it doesn’t have enough money to provide for judiciary & police. As a result, fundamental / human rights of innocent commoners are thwarted. The state governments & GOI ,  is one of either parties in 75% of cases  before various courts in India, it is the biggest litigant & is influencing the judiciary by controlling the grants , recruitment to judiciary & by enticing some with post-retirement postings.

 

The government has got money  to spend on lavish parties of VVIPs , IAS officers serving non-veg foods , alchoholic drinks . their foreign jaunts , 5-star bungalows , limousines , interior decorations of their bungalows, etc. which is of higher priority , importance , whether the luxury of VVIPs or the fundamental / human rights of  commoners ? the courts should answer. The courts have the legal powers to order governments to provide enough financial grants to it , however it is keeping mum , turning blinds eye to crimes of VVIP�s. the government rewards such judges with salary hikes , promotions , luxury cars , bungalows , perks and post-retirement postings , sites at judicial lay-out , yelahanka , Bangalore , etc.

 

We at  e-voice  have  utmost respect for the judiciary , but hereby humbly bringing the crimes of judiciary before the honest  few judges seeking justice to the common folk.

 

 

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SC Judges reveal asset on website
The Supreme Court on Monday, 2nd November, posted the Assets of Supreme Court judges on its website, clarifying that the declarations were being made on a voluntary basis only! This despite the fact that the decision to reveal assets on the website was taken on Aug. 26 in the backdrop of a raging controversy over resistance by the SC to answer a query regarding assets of judges. As this MailToday story reports, declarations lack information with some Judges giving only sketchy details and not mentioning the value of their movable and immovable assets. more…

Ghaziabad provident fund scam main accused dies under mysterious circumstances
Ashutosh Asthana, the main accused in the Ghaziabad provident fund scam, was found dead in his prison cell on 17th October 2009. It is known that he was clearly under a lot of pressure, as was evident from his statement in which he tried to change his first confessional statement as well as another affidavit through his lawyer in which he stated that he had given the second statement under pressure. In his S. 164 confessional statement before the Magistrate of Ghazibad court, he had confessed that of the 7 crore embezzled, he had given cash and gifts such as air conditioners, refrigerators, expensive clothes, jewellery and furniture to many judges including judges of the High Court and a Supreme Court judge. news report

Contempt of Court & the Conflict of Interest Controversy
Last week there were newspaper reports that the Supreme Court has permitted the filing of a contempt petition against Mr. Prashant Bhushan for allegedly casting aspersions against some judges including Justice Kapadia, for his violating the law against judges hearing cases where there is a conflict of Interest, by his hearing and deciding the Vendanta case despite having shares in Sterlite (a subsidary company of Vendanta).
Here’s an excellent article by Manoj Mitta (Times of India) that unfolds interesting aspects of the Justice Kapadia conflict of interest controvesy and how this principle (also importantly adopted by the SC judges in 1997 through the Restatement of Judicial Values), has been completely violated by Justice Kapadia in his hearing and deciding this and other Sterlite cases.
.…article

Corrpution in the Judiciary : Tehelka investigates…
In this Tehelkha story, Brijesh Pandey and Sanjay Dubey track the Supreme Court’s lack of urgency in investigating charges of judicial corruption.…article

The Dinakaran Imbroglio: Appointments and Complaints against Judges
The Dinakaran episode has brought to the surface the vexed problem of the arbitrary and totally unsatisfactory manner of selecting and appointing judges as well as the unresolved problem of dealing with complaints of misconduct and corruption against judges. In this bracing article Prashant Bhushan analyses these long simmering twin problems which lie at the heart of Judicial Accountablity…more

Appointment of Judges – the Justice Dinakaran Controversy
Public opinion is now stirring over the issue of appointment of judges, especially appointments made to the Supreme Court and High Courts in India, which remain largely arbitrary, adhoc and non-transparent.
The man at the centre of the storm is the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, Justice Dinakaran, whose name has been recommended, along with four others by the SC collegium for elevation as judges of the SC.
The controversy came to surface with a written complaint to the SC collegium by the Forum for Judicial Accountability. The first representation against Jusitce Dinakaran dated 9th September 2009 was regarding his amassing huge assets, corruption and serious irregularities. The Second representation listed further particulars with supporting material and the 3rd representation surfaced additional information regarding amassing of further properties and the exercise of judicial powers to decide cases in his own cause. The representations sent to SC collegium can be accessed here… Representation 1 Representation 2 Representation 3 Representation 4

Loathing and fear in TN Village – Justice Dinakaran’s Empire demystified
Read the Mail Today feature as M.C. Rajan in Chennai tracks Chief Justice Dinkaran’s disproportionate property details and other instances of judicial misconduct while also detailing other judges caught in controversy… all of which exerting pressure on the need to lift the veil of secrecy over judicial appointments…more

Historic Ruling in favour of Transparency and Accountability – The Judges’Assets case
The Delhi High Court ruled on 2nd September 2009, that the Chief Justice of India (CJI) is a “public authority” within the meaning of the Right to Information Act and has to make public the information on assets declared to him by judges under the 1997 resolution of Chief Justices. The argument that such information has been collected under fiduciary capacity by the CJI was also held to be insubstantial.. The ruling by Justice Ravindra Bhat, which came on the Supreme Court’s appeal against an almost identical order from the Central Information Commissioner (CIC), runs counter to the consistent stand of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan that the CJI could not be termed as a public authority under RTI Act..view judgement

CJAR Public Statement on SC judges decision to put their assets on website
The decision of the Supreme Court judges to put their asset declarations on the Supreme Court website is a welcome first step towards transparency and accountability of judges in this country. It is also a tribute to the power of public opinion… However, this decision of the Supreme Court judges does not obviate the need for a law to make such public declarations compulsory. Indeed, the law must provide for an annual public declaration of assets and liabilities as well as income tax returns of all public servants, including judges…more

The Judges’ Assets Saga
In February 2009, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) issued an Open Letter to Judges of all the High Courts and the Supreme Court to publicly declare their assets. It was urged through this letter, that by making a public declaration of their assets, Judges’ would be setting an example of transparency in the country which would then be emulated by other public servants in the country. In response to this letter, Justice K. Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, perhaps the first judge to voluntarily make his assets public, sent an email to Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Convener, CJAR, stating, that while he held views against the demand for public declaration of judges’ assets, he had no qualms in sharing his financial and property details, which he attached to the email. The correspondence between Mr. Prashant Bhushan and Justice Kannan can be accessed here. Further the document sent by Justice Kannan detailing his point of view can also be read here.

Karnataka High Court’s, Justice DV Shylendra Kumar on Declaration of Assets by Judges
Running out rightly contrary to the refusal of Judges of the High Courts and Supreme Court to publicly declare their assets, Justice, DV Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court, powerfully expresses his views against the Chief Justice of India speaking on behalf of the country’s judiciary as well as Justice Kumar’s right to express his views freely and without fear. His articles in the New Indian Express can be read here and here. Justice Kumars asset details as posted on a website can be accessed here.

Too High a horse – Ram Jethmalani
Former Law Minister, Mr. Ram Jethmalani asserts that judges must disclose their assets to maintain public confidence in the courts more.…article

Law Commission of India – Report on Reforms in the Judiciary
The Law Commission of India, Chaired by Justice Dr. Justice AR. Lakshmanan, in its REPORT NO. 230 focuses on REFORMS IN THE JUDICIARY, offering some suggestions. The report was submitted to the Union Minister of Law and Jusitce, Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India by the Law Commission on the 5th of August, 2009. Copy of the report can be found here.

CJI-Please declare my assets: Justice J.S. Verma
Former Chief Justice of India reitirates – Judicial accountability requires transparency. Public knowledge of the antecedents, assets and liabilities of the judge, spouse and dependents is necessary for adjudging the judge’s conduct and suitability for the performance of official duties… more.

Accountable or not – Fali S. Nariman
Renowned Jurist Fali S. Nariman states in this article that if the credibility of the higher judiciary is to be restored, as he believes it must — since without the higher judiciary our Constitution simply cannot work — it is essential that every judge of the Supreme Court set an example and voluntarily make a public disclosure of his (or her) assets on the website of the Supreme Court, law or no law. more.

Limits of Judicial Conduct – V.R. Krishna Iyer
A Performance Commission to investigate delinquent judges is essential if egregious judicial blunders are to be minimised. Read this thought provoking artcile where Justice Krishna Iyer dwells on the limits of judicial conduct in the present day context. more.

Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill 2009
access copy here

CJAR Statement on proposed Bill on Declaration of Assets
Government of India has recently declared that bill is proposed to be tabled in the parliament on the issue of declaration of assets by the judges. This bill mandates all judges to compulsorily declare their assets to respective Chief Justices. In light of this, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms have issued a public statement. Through this statement, CJAR has called for a public and annual declaration of assets by the Judges to ensure that the objective of transparency through this proposed Bill is achieved. The statement also appeals that the proposed Bill be finalised after effective consultation with civil society. The statement has been endorsed by many eminent persons from all walks of life. The statement can be downloaded from here.

CJAR Strategic planning meeting
On 11th July 2009, strategic planning meeting of the members of CJAR was held. In this meeting, future course of action of the Campaign was discussed. In this meeting, apart from other issues, recently passed legislation “Gram Nyalalaya Act”, recommendation of 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission on Judicial Reforms were also discussed. Minutes of the meeting can be found here. Gram Nyayalaya Act, as passed by parliament can be found here. It can be compared with the Draft Gram Nyalayaya Bill as introduced in Rajya Sabha. Draft Bill can be found here. Excerpts from recommendations of 2nd ARC can be found here. In the meeting, status report of the activities of the CJAR during last year was also presented. This report can be downloaded from here.

“Failing the common people”
India has an independent judiciary. Nonetheless, the gaps between codified law and grassroots reality are wide. The Delhi-based Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Judicial Reforms wants matters to change. Prashant Bhushan, one of its leaders, explained what is wrong with the courts and what could make a difference in a D+C/E+Z-interview. …more

Govt probing assets owned by ex-CJI Sabharwal’s family
In the reply to an application filed under Right to Information Act, Central Government has admitted that pursuant to the complaint from CJAR regarding undue monetary advantage to the family members of Justice Sabharwal due to his controversial orders on sealing the business establishments in Delhi; CBI has been directed to investigate the matter. CBI is investigaing various aspects of the case, including the allegation of misuse of public office by the family members of Justice Sabharwal. …more

Lack of Judicial Accountability in India
Recently, in a talk in South Asian Studies Department, Princeton, Prashant Bhushan delivered a talk on “Lack of Judicial Accountability in India”. In this talk, Prashant has pointed how judiciary has acqired self-perpetrating oligarchy and has bocome powerful. He has also pointed out as to how the judiciary has been making attempts to keep itself cocooned and has dismissed all attempts to make it accountable. …more

Sacrificing Human Rights and Environmental Rights at the Alter of “Development”
Recently, in a talk in George Washington University Law School, Washington, Prashant Bhushan presented a carefully researched paper titled Sacrificing Human Rights and Environmental Rights at the Altar of “Development”. In this paper, Prashant has pointed how “insensitive” the judiciary is, towards the poor. Indian courts have failed to protect the socio-economic rights of the common people of India who constitute the vast majority of the Indian population. The main reason behind the insensitiveness of judiciary is that the higher judiciary in India invariably comes from the elite section of the society nd it has become a self-appointing and self-perpetuating oligarchy, says Prashant. …more

Screening of Dam-age
Screening of the documentary “Dam-age”, which covers the infamous Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada and the Arundhati Roy contempt case, took place at the India International Centre Auditorium on Saturday March 7, 2009. Read more about the film on the website of Icuras Films. You can also see the film on Google Video.

RTI on recruitmentsin DHC
An RTI application was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking information on recruitments of the Class III and Class IV employees from 1990 to 2000. The PIO’s response was that vacant positions were not always advertised nor interviews/tests conducted, whereas on the other hand several hundred temporary and adhoc appointments were made over this period. This goes to expose the complete violation of all rules of fairness and just procedure in recruitment and appointment at the Delhi High Court.…more; ..application in pdf format; ..application in word

 

Impeachment motion against Justice Sen moved
58 MPs of Rajya Sabha sent a letter to the Vice Prersident and the Chairman of Rajya Sabha seeking impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen. News were published in …Economic Times …Hindu …Indian Express

Public Action : 26th Feb. ’09
With the backdrop of a legal tussle over disclosure of assets by Judges, the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform, organised a public protest outside the Supreme Court, in a bid for greater transparency and accountability in the judiciary. A silent demonstration Near Indian Law Institute, Opposite Supreme Court from 10 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on the 26th of February, 2009. …more; ..photos

Judicial Delays Petition
This petition is to seek redressal for crores of Indian citizens who are routinely denied justice because of its delayed and therefore, ineffective dispensation. It is to restore to them their fundamental and constitutional rights guaranteed under Articles 21, 14, 19 and the Preamble, and to enforce the constitutional obligations of State under Article 39A of the Constitution of India. …more

An Open Letter to Judges
Eminent persons from different walks of life and movements have written an open letter to all Judges of Supreme Court and all High Courts in India, calling them upon to declare their assets voluntarily and set an example for other public servents. …letter …more

Article: “Completely Collapsed System”
News report in International Business Times highlighting the conditions of Indian Courts and pendency of cases. …article

Article: “Dismantling the walls of secrecy”
A number of steps are required to strengthen the transparency regime sought to be established by the RTI Act. Tarunabh Khaitan writes in Frontline. …article

Article: “Go Ahead, Ask”
Aruna Roy an Nikhil Dey of National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information RTI must be empowered to penetrate the veil of corporate India This article was published in Tehelka …article

Article: “Judging the Judges”
Recent cases underline the need for independent Constitutional bodies for the appointment of judges as well as for investigating complaints against them. These cannot be in-house bodies of judges and must be completely independent of the judiciary as well as of the government. Prashant Bhushan writes in Outlook. …article

Article: “In Suspension”
Chandrani Banerjee writes in Outlook on the issue of impeachment of Justice Soumitra Sen as suggested by the Chief Justice of India and dilemma of the present government. …article

News: “CIC refuses to declare assets”
Members of the Central Information Commission have recently decided not to declare their assets in public. …news

Students Workshop
CJAR has yet again organised a  Student Workshop on ‘Judicial Accountability and Reform’ on Saturday, February 7, 2009. This workshop aimed at providing the students with an overview and perspective on the judicial mechanism in the country in the present context. Apart from this, issues and concerns of students was also taken up and addressed through a time of open interaction and learning sessions. Ranking them an important stakeholder group and building for their fuller participation in the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform.…invite

Press Converage
Press Release… …more
NGO seeks consitutional body for judicial postings…more
Non-transparency in judiciary casuing scandals: CJAR …more
Parties support sought to impeach HC Judge…more

Press Conference
A Press Conference is being organised by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform on the recent controversies relating to appointment and removal of judges, on Monday, 19th January, 2009 at 4p.m. at the Womens Press Corps. The conference will be addressed by Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Senior advocate, Supreme Court of India, Admiral R.H. Tahiliani (retired), former Chief of Naval Staff and Chairman Transparency International, India, Ms. Kamini Jaiswal, Senior advocate, Supreme Court of India and others.…invite

The Judiciary: Hopes and Fear by Prashant Bhushan
When one examines the hopes and fears that one has from judiciary, it is necessary to define the role that one expects the judiciary to play in the country. Apart from dispensing justice in individual disputes brought before it, the judiciary is expected to be the guardian of the Constitution and is supposed to protect the fundamental rights of the people and implement the rule of law.…more

Appointment of Mr Ashwini Kumar Mata
Letter to Chief Justice of India dated January 6, 2008 on behalf of CJAR. …more
Letter to Chief Justice of India …more

Removal of Mr Justice Soumitra Sen
Students Text of the letter by Chief Justice of India to Prime Minister of India for Removal of Mr. Justice Soumitra Sen, Judge, Calcutta High Court …more

International Conference
International conference of jurists on ‘Terrorism, Rule of Law & Human Rights’ was held in New Delhi on December 13-14, 2008. text of the Inaugural speech of Justice K.G.Balakrishna, CJI …more

Above the Law
In Frontiline; A.G.Noorani, Nov 2008…more

Against the Law
In Frontiline; A.G.Noorani, Nov 2008…more

RTI and Judiciary
CJI not exempt from RTI purview, CIC tells Supreme Court; Times of India, Jan 7, 2009…more

PF scam case
PF scam judge transferred to Punjab and Haryana High Cout; Tribune, Jan 7, 2009…more

Too many case
In Frontiline; Nick Robinson, …more
Students Workshop
A Half-day Students workshop on “Judicial Accountablity and Reforms” was organised by the Campaign on Saturday, October 18, 2008 at 6/5 Jangpura B, New Delhi fom 9 am to 1 pm. .…agenda

 

Panel Discussion

A Panel discussion on “Judicial Accountability – Appointment, Investigations and Removal” is organised by the Campaign on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 at Plenary Hall, Indian Law Institute, Bhagwan Das Road, New Delhi. …background note

More News on Judges Scam
– PM calls for introspection on judicial appointments;Sept 12, 2008 …more
– A Rough Justice; Indian Express; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– UP cops want CBI probe against 34 judges; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– CBI can question two P&H High Court Judges; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– How to Judge a Judge; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– PF scam: UP getsflak for failing to order CBI probe; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– Stemming rot; Judges dont need complete immunity says CJI; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– Justice Sen not resigning; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– Judging the Judge; Sept 10, 2008 …more
– Kolkatta Judges case adds to judicial woes; Sept 09 , 2008 …more
– Why it’s s difficult to remove a judge; Sept 09, 2008 …more
– Centre moves to impeach HC judge; Sept 09, 2008 …more
– CJI recommends impeachment of Calcutta HC judge; Sept 08, 2008 …more

Ghaziabad Judges Scam
– The Hindu; July 15, 2008 …more
– Hindustan Times; July 15, 2008 …more
– Indian Express; July 15, 2008 …more
– Hindustan Times; July 13, 2008 …more
– The Hindu; July 08, 2008 …more
– Times of India; July 08, 2008 …more
– The Telegraph; July 08, 2008 …more
– ZEE News; July 04, 2008 …more

Judges’ Wealth: Info body seeks opinions
In an attempt to settle the controversy surrounding the implementation of Right to Information Act in the judiciary, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed Supreme Court officials and the Department of Personnel and Training to present their views on the matter.

Ex-chief justice under corruption panel scanner
In a development unprecedented in the country’s judicial history, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the government’s anti-corruption watchdog, has forwarded a set of complaints with allegations of corruption and misconduct against former Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal to the government for further action.

 

Judges are Public Servants, not Bosses – J.Krishna Iyer
Contrary to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court recently said, the Right to Information Act does cover ‘constitutional authorities’ …more

Corruption in judiciary: It needs to have an Ombudsman of its own –
Fali S.Nariman

 

 

 

CJA

 

Judicial Accountability

 

 

 

 

Whether judges are appointed or elected it is their performance on the bench and their accountability for improper activities that is crucial.

While there is great debate as to how judges are put on the bench, the public’s dissatisfaction with the so-called independence of the judiciary and with the inadequacy of the judicial disciplinary machinery is disregarded by the Bench and Bar.

We say that our system of government is a democracy. Yet we have a judiciary with absolute power over our courts, unparalleled in history. This power is founded on judicial independence, judicial immunity and control over the Bar. Our system of government is based on separation of powers and does not allow such concentration of power in the judicial branch.

Florida is typical of the legal system throughout the country. Although the judiciary asserts immense power over the lives of individuals and the conduct of businesses, they have rendered themselves totally unaccountable to the public or to any other branch of government.

The judges and lawyers maintain their stronghold on the legal system on the myth that they are the guardians of the constitutional rights of the people and that the lawyers champion these rights in a court of law that is just and fair.

However, the legal profession has become big business, where justice is not the objective but, to keep the clock running for billable hours for the maximum profit. Although judges and lawyers hypothetically take an oath to uphold the laws and the constitution of the land, in many cases that oath might as well have been taken on the cook book, to brew up litigation to use the legal system for an assembly line conversion of the victim’s assets into fees, or to confiscate it outright.

Even if, there are some judges and lawyers dedicated to the proper administration of justice, unfortunately there are many who are not. To create fees, lawyers can litigate frivolous, false claims or defenses endlessly and can drag on a simple case for years. To stop the litigation, the attorneys can demand payment, a so-called settlement which in many cases is nothing more than a form of extortion. These practices not only harm the individual litigants but, is an unconscionable waste of the taxpayers’ money and clog up the court system.

Many judges acting in conjunction with attorneys, abuse the judicial independence given to them in trust and confidence of the people. The myth is dispelled when we are confronted by judges who disregard the rules; allow the distortion of facts sometimes to the point of perjury; exclude evidence; rely on laws which have no relevance to the legal and factual issues; issue decisions which fabricate facts and are contrary to the record; deliberately omit critical facts from the record; fail to follow the controlling law and precedent; or issue decisions without any stated facts or law; and approve unreasonable and unconscionable fees for attorneys. It is not unusual that property and money are taken from the victims without the required due process and the victims are left with nothing or a token of what they had or were entitled to.

Read about the best judges money can buy Click here Also please read Judges Don’t Care About My Life Click here.  Judges should be made accountable for the time they  spend on the bench Click here.   A response to ABA praising judges Click here.  A critical assessment of judges by former judge John Malloy click here.  According to a poll take by an American Bar Journal survey more than half of Americans are angry and disappointed with the nation’s judiciary.  A majority of the survey respondents agreed with statements that “judicial activism” has reached the crisis stage, and that judges who ignore voters’ values should be impeached. Nearly half agreed with a congressman who said judges are “arrogant, out-of-control and unaccountable.”  To read go go to, http://www.abanet.org/journal/redesign/s30survey.html

To see the judicial selection method in the States go to
http://www.ajs.org/selection/sel_state-select-map.asp

 

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Resources and Articles
-Conflict of interest
Times of India, Manoj Mitta
…more …more
-Judicial Integrity: Lessons from the past
The Hindu, Anil Divan
…more
– Controversial Choice
Frontline, V Venkatesan
…more
– Who’s Big
The Week, Soni Mishra
…more
– Burn after reading
Tehelka, Brijesh Pandy and Sanjay Dubey
…more
– No, your Honour
DNA, R. Jagannathan
…more
– How to clean up the mess
The Telegrah, M.S. Ananth
…more
– India’s villages await justice
Hindustan Times, Nagendar Sharma
…more
– The Dinakaran Imbroglio: Appointments and Complaints against Judges
Prashant Bhushan
…more
– Judicial Appointments and norms
The Hindu, Anil Diwan
…more
– Issues raised by láffaire Dinakaran
The Hindu, Justice Krishna Iyer
…more
– Judicial Accountability : Asset disclosures and beyond
Economic and Political Weekly, Prashant Bhushan
…more
– Frontline Interview with Prashant Bhushan on judiciary’s accountability to the people
Frontline, V. Venkatesan
…more
– Tehelka interview with Prashant Bhushan on Corruption in the Judiciary
Tehelka, Shoma Chaudhury
…more
– In a higher court
Indian Express, Justice J. S. Verma
…more
– Make declaring judges’ assets mandatory for all appointments
The Hindu, Sriram Panchu
…more
– A Call for Accountability
Tehelka, 12th September 2009
…more
– Who judges the judges?
Sunil Sethi, Business Standard, 5th September
…more
– The Judges’Assets imbroglio
Anil Divan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India
…more
– Everything for Justice
V. R. Krishna Iyer
…more
– Vital Stats: Pendency of Cases in Indian Courts
PRS Legislative Research, Centre for Policy Research
…more
– Reluctance to disclose assets creates impression that judge has something to hide
Justice DV Shylendra Kumar, Karnataka High Court
…more
– Indian Judiciary’s Crisis of Credibility
Manoj Mitta
…more
– Regulating Conflict of Interest: International Experience with Asset Declaration and Disclosure
By Richard E. Messick
…more
– Sacrificing Human Rights and Environmental Rights at the Alter of “Development”
By Prashant Bhushan
…more
– Needed, transparency and accountability
By V.R. Krishna Iyer, J
…more
– The Judicary; Hopes and Fear
By Prashant Bhushan
…more
– Sending the Right Message
By Joshua Rozenberg
…more
– Courting Controversy – The Supreme Court & PILS
By Prashant Bhushan
…more
– Law above all?
By Suchi Pande, Nikhil Dey and Aruna Roy
…more
– Clean Up the judiciary
By Shanti Bhushan – Times of India: National : 12th October 2007
In 1993, a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court laid down a new system for making appointments of judges to the high courts and Supreme Court. This system gave enormous powers to a collegium of senior judges of the Supreme Court to select and make recommendations to the government for these appointments. Their recommendations were also directed to be binding on the government and president.
…more
– Background Paper on “Securing Judicial Accountability”
By Prashant Bhushan – Background paper to the seminar on “Securing Judicial Accountabiliy” New Delhi : 9th October 2007
The judiciary in the country today has come to enjoy enormous powers. It is not only the arbiter of disputes between citizens, between citizens and the State, between States and the Union, it also in purported exercise of powers to enforce fundamental rights, directs the governments to close down industries, commercial establishments, demolish jhuggis, remove hawkers and rickshaw pullers from the streets, prohibits strikes and bandhs etc. In short, it has come to be the most powerful institution of the State.
…more
– Majesty of the Judiciary
By V.R. Krishna Iyer – Asian Age: New Delhi : 17th February 2007
The judiciary is the most sublime instrumentality in the country and I have served it for nearly a decade during the best part of my life. This article, written out of reverence for the judicature, has a benign intent meant to arrest its corruption and decline now creeping into its vitals.
…more
Has The Philosophy Of The Supreme Court On Public Interest Litigation Changed In The Era Of Liberalisation?
By Prashant Bhushan, Advocate
The foundations of public interest litigation were laid in the late 70s with cases like the Ratlam Municipalities case. The scope and breadth of public interest litigation were expanded in the Eighties from the initial environmental concerns, to concerns like bonded labour, child labour, the rights of detenues, inmates of various asylums, the rights of the poor to education, to shelter and other essential amenities which would enable them to lead a life of dignity.
…more
Contempt of court: need for a second look
By Markandey Katju – The Hindu, Monday, January 22, 2007
In a democracy the people should have the right to criticise judges. The purpose of the contempt power should not be to uphold the majesty and dignity of the court but only to enable it to function.
…more
– Comments of the Committee on Judicial Accountability on the Judges Enquiry Bill, 2006.
by Committee on Judicial Accountability.
…more
Judicial Accountability or Illusion – the National Judicial Council Bill
by Prashant Bhushan, Advocate
The recent decision of the government to bring a bill to amend the Judges Inquiry Act and provide for the constitution of a National Judicial Council to inquire into complaints against errant judges is being perceived as a long awaited initiative to introduce some accountability for judges of the higher judiciary.
…more
– Access to Justice: Judiciary watch
by Videh Upadhyay, Advocate, Supreme Court
The functioning of a democracy is dependent on the autonomy and efficacy of the three systems of the state, namely, parliament, executive and the judiciary. India in the last two decades has seen rapid erosion of the functioning of the parliament and the executive. In this scenario of failure of the state in ensuring its constitutional obligation and rights to the citizens and initiating social-economic transformation, the judiciary has often played a significant role in upholding the rule of law and thereby protecting the fundamentals of democracy in the country.
…more
Democracy and Justice
by Dunu Roy, Director, Hazards Centre
Is “democracy” a “good thing”? As the general elections approach, there is a concerted push to answer ‘yes’. Whereby, it is conveniently forgotten that for civil liberties to become a rallying cry, it was also necessary for the Emergency to be imposed! And, as one generation gives way before the next, another Emergency slowly creeps up onto an unwary nation. In many ways, the recent drive to clear the banks of the Yamuna in Delhi of slums and to convert the area into a national tourism-cum-cultural complex raises significant questions about the nature of Indian democracy.
…more
Questions without Answers
by Sukumar Muralidhar & V. Venkatesan, Frontline, Vol 18, Issue 09
Former Law Minister and Senior Advocate Shanti Bhushan releases his correspondence with the Judges of the Supreme Court, the President and the Prime Minister seeking an inquiry into certain allegations relating to Chief Justice of India A.S. Anand.
…more
– On Corruption In Judiciary And Judicial Accountability
by Hardev Singh, Peoples Democracy
A SPATE of scams involving members of higher judiciary in bribery, corruption, sex, favoritism and abuse of power has come as a great shock to the people. The arrest of Shamit Mukherjee, a Delhi High Court judge, just before being made permanent, magnified the shock beyond description so as to hasten the BJP-led government to announce the formation of a National Judicial Commission for appointments to the higher echelons of judiciary.
…more
– Accountability of Supreme Court: Arundhati Roy Case
By S.P.Sathe (EPW April 13, 2002)
Can a citizen of India not criticise the Supreme Court’s decisions? Can she not criticise the procedures and management of the court? Is the court not supposed to be accountable? How will its accountability be enforced if it were made absolutely immune from public criticism?
…more

 

CJAR © 2007 judicialreforms@gmail.com

 

 

PUCL Bulletin, August 2002

Judicial accountability
— By Rajindar Sachar

The former Chief Justice of India, S.P. Bharucha, seemed to be echoing the lament in Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark” when he moaned recently that the integrity of about 20 per cent of the higher Judiciary was in doubt. Article 124(4) of the Constitution provides for the removal of a judge only on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. The process of impeachment is cumbersome and the result uncertain. Effective alternative measures are necessary because in a democracy governed by the rule of law under a written Constitution the Judiciary has been assigned the role of a sentinel on the qui vive to protect the fundamental rights and to hold even the scales of justice between the citizen and the state.

There are credible complaints against the higher Judiciary. People talk with nostalgia of the not-so-distant past when, win or lose, the integrity of the higher Judiciary was never doubted. As the Supreme Court has said, “judicial office is essentially public trust. Society is, therefore, entitled to expect that a judge must be a man of high integrity, honesty and required to have moral vigor, ethical firmness and impervious to corrupt or venal influences.”

Hundreds of years ago, Francis Bacon, in his essay on ‘Judicature’, emphasised that “the place of justice is a hallowed place; and therefore not only the Bench, but the foot pace and precincts and purpose thereof ought to be preserved without scandal and corruption.” But such is the irony that Bacon disgraced himself by indulging in acts of bribery and favouritism at the fag end of his career. This highlights the complexities and the sensitivities in the matter of effective, implementation of judicial honesty.

It is correct that the Supreme Court has neither administrative control over the High Courts nor the power on the judicial side to inquire into the misbehaviour of a Chief Justice or a judge of a High Court. But that does not mean the judge is an absolute master, not answerable for his conduct except through impeachment proceedings.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Chief Justice of India and two senior colleagues on being prima facie satisfied about the correctness and truth touching the conduct of a High Court judge inconsistent with such high office could proceed against him through a process other than impeachment. In such a case, the judge concerned could be offered the option of resigning or facing an inquiry. I know the alternative of permitting the judge to resign when there has been misconduct may seem like taking the soft option, but considering the place of the Judiciary in our Constitutional frame as the bedrock of the rule of law, I would, to avoid public embarrassment, frankly want to vote for this option unless it involves: an open atrocious misconduct which must be publicly disclosed to serve as a warning.

This Enquiry Committee will have the same personnel as is mandated for the impeachment proceedings, so as to inspire confidence about the impartiality of the proceedings. The plus point in this suggestion is that the constitution of a Committee of Judges to inquire into the misconduct could be initiated by the Chief Justice and his two colleagues and need not await the initiation by the Members of Parliament required for impeaching the judge, as mandated by the Constitution.

Such a mode did work when some years back the then Chief Justice of India posed this alternative to a High Court judge and a Chief Justice and they quietly resigned rather than face impeachment… That is why the idea of a National Judicial Commission has been mooted to deal with appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges and other connected matters. Of course, the details and the personnel of the judicial commission need to be debated. I am however, convinced that the leader of the Opposition must be a member of the panel.

It is to be hoped that a commission will avoid the need for impeachment proceedings. Regarding removal, the Commission would remain a recommending body. Because, notwithstanding all the drawbacks, I am not convinced that removal of a High Court or Supreme Court judge should be through any method other than impeachment. I feel that removal from such high office should be publicly debated by the highest legislature, the representatives of the people, so that an assurance is given to the judge concerned that he is being judged by the people who in a democratic set – up are real sovereigns.

I also feel that the retirement age of the Supreme Court and High Court judges should be the same. If that happens, all this lobbying, etc., will stop because, barring the case of a judge who may have the chance of being the Chief Justice of India, there will normally be no attraction for a High Court judge in trying into move Delhi, which would involve dislocation of his/her family and normal pattern of life.

The appointment of outside judges as Chief Justices of High Courts has failed. I feel this practice must cease because by following it two infirmities crop up. One, that the new Chief Justices mostly hold office for a short period in the new High Court and are not able to make any imprint on their colleagues or the functioning of the Court. This practice also leads to heartburn because some are appointed Chief Justices of the bigger Courts and some to the smaller Courts on no explainable principle excepting as a rule of thumb – hardly befitting judicial objectivity. Two, I am against the policy of non-consensual transfers of judges from one High Court to another. This policy would weaken the bulwark of our Constitution – namely, independence of the Judiciary – for as Justice Douglas of the U.S. Supreme Court said, “no matter how strong an individual judge’s spine, the threat of punishment – (read transfer) is the greatest peril to judicial independence -would project as dark a shadow whether cast by political strangers or by judicial colleagues”.

I do not underestimate even for a moment the damage some judges have caused to the judicial institutions by their unethical conduct, but damage control will be better done by selective transfer rather through a general policy.
The transfer policy also gives rise to the syndrome of sycophancy and flattery. That is unfortunate because the High Court, like the Supreme Court, represents the same aspects of sovereignty.

If I sound a bit harsh, I can only invoke the caveat of Justice Holmes of the U.S. Supreme Court, who said, “trust that no one will understand me to be speaking with disrespect of the law because I criticise it so freely. But one may criticise even what one reveres… And I should show less than devotion, if I did not do what in me lies to improve it.”

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