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'Don't tinker with judicial independence'

HT correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 15, 2012
First Published: 14:14 IST(15/8/2012) | Last Updated: 23:09 IST(15/8/2012)

Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia on Wednesday cautioned the government against tinkering with the independence of judiciary. Justice Kapadia, who is due to retire in September end, however, admitted that sometimes judicial overreach disturbed the balance among three branches of a state.

Speaking on the occasion of Independence Day celebrations at the Supreme Court, the CJI said: "The government may make law for making judges accountable. We are not afraid. But it should not tinker with the very constitutional principle of judicial independence."

Justice Kapadia's speech was an indirect reference to the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is pending in the Rajya Sabha. A controversial clause in the bill restrains judges from making unwarranted comments against the conduct of any constitutional or statutory institution or officials at the time of hearing matters in open courts.

The bill allows citizens to complain against corrupt judges. The clause has, however, led to jurists criticising the bill as they feel the provision virtually "gags" judges.

He said government must call for opinion from jurists before making a law. "We need to make a detailed study before we tinker with the Constitution," he said, emphasising any move that disturbs balance of power among legislative, executive and judiciary would "damage the Constitution".

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