Activists For Independent Bodies To Heal Judicial System

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New Delhi, Sep 18 (UNI) Activist Lawyers have suggested two full-time commissions controlled neither by government nor judiciary to appoint judges and act on complaints against them.

The suggestion came after a panel discussion last night on 'Judicial Accountability - Appointments, Investigation And Removal' attended among others by former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan.

The panelists suggested setting up a full-time independent Judicial Complaints Commission and a Judicial Bureau of Investigation to examine and act on complaints against judges.

The existing or proposed in-house mechanisms-- Judges Inquiry Amendment Bill, for instance-- were dismissed as unlikely to work for two reasons, a resolution adopted at the meeting said.

For one, judges won't have time to properly examine or investigate complaints and, for another, they may find it ''difficult'' to indict ''brother'' judges, the resolution said.

The panelists who included Anil Diwan, Prashant Bhushasn, Mayank Srivastav and Rohit Singh voiced ''serious concern'' over the growing number of corruption scandals involving the Judiciary.

The resolution said it reflected a deep-rooted malaise which ''allowed persons with dubious records to get appointed'' and ''enabled corrupt Judges to function with impunity.'' Every time a scandal surfaces, the establishment gets busy trying to ''hide the problem from public view,'' allowing consequently ''corruption in the Judiciary to fester and grow,'' it said.

It pointed to a Calcutta lawyer's elevation as a judge in 2003 despite his having misappropriated funds as court receiver between 1993-95 and being the subject matter of proceedings against him.

''The Soumitro Sen case illustrates how the lack of transparency and the lack of any objective and credible system of selecting Judges for appointment to the higher Judiciary has allowed persons with dubious records to get appointed.'' It called for ''an independent-- of both the government and the judiciary-- Judicial Appointments Commission which shortlists and selects Judges by following an objective and transparent process.'' ''The present system of a small Collegium of sitting Judges selecting and appointing judges arbitrarily, behind closed doors must immediately be replaced.'' Panelists rejected courts' stand against investigating a judge in a criminal matter without the Chief Justice's written permission to preclude harassment of innocent judges.

They said there has never been a single case of an innocent Judge being harassed by police, which in fact is ''seriously inhibited'' from investigating judges despite ''adequate evidence against them.'' Such guidelines ''must therefore be scrapped'' and a separate Judicial Bureau of Investigation under an Independent Judicial Complaints Commission created to order investigation against Judges.

The system of impeachment as a means of dealing with judicial misconduct has been found to be totally unworkable and impracticable, the panelists held.


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