Public Accountability : Judicial

 

Introduction

  • The Indian Judiciary plays an increasingly important role in the life and the governance of this country..
  • Recently CJI as the master of the roster with the sole prerogative to determine which Bench of judges gets to hear which cases comes under question.
  • Four senior judges of supreme court came in public and organized a press conference to tell that everything is not going fine inside the judiciary, they were mainly pointing on the CJI that he is allocating case to benches in arbitrary manner

 

Why judicial reforms and accountability

  • For ensuring speedy justice: Speedy justice is not only our fundamental right but also a most important requirement for maintaining the rule of law and delivering good governance.
  • Opaque internal structure founded on a combination of unquestioning trust in the office of CJI along with instinctive distaste for any interference by parliament or executive in judicial functioning
  • Judiciary as guardian of our constitution: Judicial accountability is more important, as decline of values in judiciary is far more dangerous than in any other organ of the government as judiciary has to act as the guardian of our constitution.
  • Virtually absolute power with court: the courts in India enjoy virtually absolute power than any Court in the world. So accountability is must.
  • To clear the backlog cases – more than 3 core cases are pending in judiciary there clearance needs holistic reform in the judiciary.
  • In its absence, the judicial system ends up serving the interests of the corrupt and the law-breakers.

 

  • Judicial Accountability

 

  • Accountability is the core principle of any democracy. In our democracy it is only the executive and the legislature which is held accountable and not the judiciary. Judges are also public officials and hence should be made accountable.
  • It is essential to ensure accountability of the judges to ensure public confidence in the judicial system. Accountability will help in reducing incidences of nepotism by the judges. Judges being given political posts like in “Justice Sathasivam” case who became the governor of Kerala post retirement raises questions about political influence affecting the judiciary. Moreover, judgements have huge ramifications in the society hence to make judgements more prudent; judges need to be made accountable.

 

  • Impeachment is a legal procedure for the removal of judges on grounds of ”proven misbehavior or misconduct’ but it is far too lengthy and cumbersome procedure. No judge has ever been impeached till date stands testimony to the fact that judiciary enjoys undisputed power. Even in cases like that of Judge Veeraswami, Judge Ramaswami where this procedure was initiated, were not finally completed.

 

  • Independence of the judiciary means independence from the executive and legislative and not lack of accountability. The yardstick or parameters to judge accountability and proper procedures for their performance assessment needs to evolve (though debated, discussed) so as not to denigrate judges or do character assassination but to ensure  objective, fair and just accountability of judiciary.
  • Proven methods like a system of evaluation by trained court observers who make unscheduled court visits to evaluate Judges on their knowledge of law, integrity, communication skills, and impartiality may be experimented.

 

  • Additionally, leading universities should publish journals criticizing any misjudgment. It is important to implement bills like the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill to enforce a reasonable level of restriction. Even countries like Denmark and Sweden have institutions to look into special courts to hear complaints against the judges. However, it is essential that the judicial accountability does not hamper the feature of independent judiciary in any way as it would hamper the most essential feature for staying unbiased.

 

 

Reforms Needed

  • Supreme Court act can be passed by parliament after consulting all stakeholders- judiciary, civil society, bar association and political opinion.
  • This act will restructure the supreme court into 3 division
  • Admission-special leave petition under article 136 will be heard by this bench comprising of 5 judges
  • Constitutional- 5 judges bench to deal with constitutional matter.
  • Appellate-rest 21 judges will be divided into 7 benches of 3 judge each to hear appeal against HC judgment.
  • Judges will be circulated among 3 division at particular interval.
  • By this act present crisis can be solved – coherency in SC decision as same 5 judge will listen to constitutional matter. CJI being master of roster issue will also be solved.
  • Timely appointment of judges –there should not be any vacancy in Courts.

 

challenges in judiciary

  • Allegation of corruption in the court.
  • No mechanism to look into the corruption charges on the judges.
  • Interference of CBI in the working of judiciary amounts to executive control over the judiciary, which goes against the basic principles of the constitution that is judicial independence
  • The chief justice constituting a 5 judge bench including himself when he is facing allegations ignores the primary principle that justice not only be done, but be seen to be done.
  • The use of Article 142 has also become a sign of immense judicial indiscipline Article 142 gives judges the power to do whatever it takes to secure justice.
  • Delay in disposal of cases is to a great extent responsible for the increase in crimes like rape, murder, looting, cheating and so on.
  • There are almost 30 million cases pending and it takes between 12 to 15 years for a judgment. In the meantime, Witnesses could die, turn hostile, go missing, or get killed.
  • In many cases, what is being dispensed as justice after so many years of litigation is flawed.
  • High no. of vacancy in judiciary impacts justice system

 

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