ISSUE : Justice C.S.Karnan was sentenced to six months for contempt
NEWS : The saga of Justice C.S. Karnan’s outrageous behaviour and the Supreme Court’s handling of the matter became an unseemly spectacle.
BOTTLENECKS EXPOSED: 1. Law (Judges Inquiry Act, 1968) doesn’t deal with procedure to to deal with errant judges 2. Constitutional Machinery for impeaching the judges doesn’t work due to its onerous and political nature. 3. Law for judicial accountability is need of the hour.
SOLUTION : Full time body : for appointments + receiving complaints against judges.
HOW IT SHOULD BE >
• It must be independent of the government and the judiciary. • Secrecy breeds nepotism and favouritism, therefore transparency is sine qua non in process of appointments.
Clearly-defined criteria for assessing the suitability of a judge would bring objectivity in the process.
APPOINTMENT OF JUSTICE KARNAN : Justice Karnanappears to have been unfit. Why would you say that :Justice Karnan was appointed as an additional judge in 2009. He was confirmed as a permanent judge in 2011.
Normally, judges of high courts are appointed as additional judges, first, and then as a permanent judge.
• In a press conference, He claimed caste-based harassment by his brother judges and wrote to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. • From 2014 onwards, his conduct has kept him in the news; this is completely dissonant with the principle that judges should be heard of through their judgments alone. • Clearly, the selection process omitted effective consideration of his fitness to act as a judge.
This is a failure of both collegium + agencies that are tasked with background checks and security clearance.
JUSTICE AND JUDGES :
• Judges are required to adopt a higher standard of morality in their behaviour to continue to inspire confidence in seekers of justice — the people at large. • Justice demands that lawyers, litigants and the general public have utmost confidence and trust in the judges and the courts over which they preside.
HOW THE JUDGES SHOULD BE >
• SCAORA v. Union case (1993), recorded the need for an “independent and impartial judiciary manned by the persons of sterling quality and character, undaunting courage and determination and resolute impartiality and independence who would dispense justice without fear or favour, ill will or affection.”
• Sixth Conference of the Chief Justices of Asia and the Pacific adopting the Statement of Principles on Independence of the Judiciary prescribed that “Judges shall uphold the integrity and independence of the Judiciary by avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all their activities.”
CONSTITUTIONAL SAFEGUARDS FOR THE JUDGES :
Article 217 of the Constitution provides due protection for the appointment of high court judges and a stringent procedure for the removal of a high court judge.
The Judges Inquiry Act, 1968 regulates the process of removal of judges wherein, Parliament-appointed committee whose mandate is to investigate the misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge.
In-house Procedure : This procedure was created to deal with allegations against a judge pertaining to the discharge of his judicial functions. HOW ? CJI to advise a judge to resign or seek voluntary retirement. If the judge does not resign or retire, the chief justice (of the high court) can be advised not to allocate any judicial work, and the matter brought to the notice of the president and prime minister.
LX BASICS : PROCEDURE TO REMOVE A JUDGE OF SUPREME COURT/HIGH COURT
1. Article 124 (4) of the Constitution stipulates that a minimum of 50 RajyaSabha members or 100 members from the LokSabha are required as signatories to initiate impeachment. 2. The next step in the process is for the Vice President to constitute a three-member committee under the 1968 Judges (Inquiry) Act. 3. The committee generally consists of a sitting Supreme Court judge and two High Court Chief justices. 4. This is done in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. 5. The committee will function like a trial court, examining the accusations and will advise in favour or against the judge’s removal. 6. The committee’s decision will then be placed in both Houses of Parliament for a vote. It would require a two-third majority of MPs present voting in favour of the motion in the same session, or an absolute majority of a joint session, for the judge to be removed.
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