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Judges’ Bill limited,must address appointment: Panel

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel said unless the issue of judges’ appointment is “addressed comprehensively”.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
August 31, 2011 2:40:39 am

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel today said unless the issue of judges’ appointment is “addressed comprehensively”,the proposed law on judicial accountability would “end up with limited success because of the piecemeal nature of the proposed legislation”.

It has also sought strengthening of the proposed law to restrain Judges from making “unwarranted comments” against other constitutional and statutory institutions and individuals etc in open court while hearing cases.

The proposed Judicial (Standards and Accountability) Bill,2010,does not deal with the issue of appointment of Judges.

The committee,which tabled its report on the Bill in Parliament today,favoured inclusion of two MPs — one from each House — in the proposed National Judicial Oversight Committee,which would initiate probe into corruption allegations against Judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

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Addressing mediapersons after tabling the report,committee chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said though he was neither speaking in favour or against the National Judicial Commission that is being recommended as an alternative to the prevailing collegium system for appointment of Judges,the panel was of the view that the “government has to move beyond an incremental approach and give urgent and due thought to a holistic legislation encompassing the appointment process… to ensure judicial accountability for improved administration of justice”.

On the issue of restraining Judges from making unwarranted comments in courts,Singhvi said while they were free to make observations as part of their judgments,the committee felt that they should avoid making comments which are “non judgemental” and not part of their orders. This,he asserted,was “not in contradiction to the independence of judiciary”.

The panel also wants that proceedings of the scrutiny panel to be constituted under the proposed law — the panel would consider if the complaint against a Judge needs further probe — should be held “in camera” so that the Judge against whom the complaint has been made does not face “unwarranted defamation” in the initial stage of investigation. It wants even the media to be made accountable so as to ensure secrecy.

It has also recommended that the punishment for making frivolous complaints against Judges under the proposed law not be more than what is provided for in the Contempt of Courts Act.

On the issue of mandatory declaration of assets by Judges,the committee feels that the government should include a mechanism in the Bill to ensure that scrutiny of the declaration of assets is “possible and implementable”.

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