Taking a critical view of the Supreme Court judges’ “costly” foreign visits, the Law Commission — a body which advises the Centre on law and judicial reforms — in its report has advised them against it.
“Frequent visits by judges to foreign countries at high costs should be avoided in view of the austerity measures by the government...” the latest report said. Adding that the apex court judges should give high court chief justices a chance to attend international conferences.
“Opportunities to attend conferences/legal seminars in foreign countries should be given to all the judges of Supreme Court and chief justices of high courts in turn,” the report submitted to Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said.
The commission’s report comes two months after the government trimmed down a judges’ delegation from 20 to four. The team was to attend an international conference on judicial reforms in London.
A Right to Information query by a Delhi resident, S.C. Aggarwal, has revealed that in the last two years the cost of air travel by the apex court judges has amounted to Rs. 1.4 crore.
The Law and Justice Ministry had declined to furnish information on the hotel stay and daily expenses of the judges. It said: “Hotel accommodations, travelling allowances and daily allowances were as per the rules.”
The ministry had framed guidelines on the judges’ foreign visits in October last year after a number of RTI queries brought to light some startling revelations — including overstaying by judges after conferences — about such trips.