Citizens keen to expose corrupt judges will have to reveal the source of their information in complaints filed by them and the final decision on whether action should be taken against the erring judges will be the government’s, according to a new draft bill.
The bill, titled the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, prepared by the law ministry is awaiting the nod of the Union cabinet, and is likely to be introduced in the ongoing budget session of Parliament.
It seeks to allow the common man for the first time to complain against corrupt judges.
However, the provisions of the bill are likely to deter citizens from exposing corruption rather than encourage them.
“Any person making an allegation of misbehaviour or incapacity in respect of a judge may file a complaint verifying what is of his own knowledge and information and shall refer to the source of information,” states Section 7.
The bill, which seeks to replace the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, provides for a series of committees to probe the allegations against judges before an impeachment motion is introduced in either house of Parliament.
The legislation provides for effective control of the government in dealing with serving and retired judges found guilty of involvement in corruption and other acts of misbehaviour.
“If the Oversight Committee, on receipt of the report from the Investigation Committee is satisfied that there has been a prime facie commission of offence by a judge, it may recommend to the Centre for prosecution of the judge in accordance with the law for the time being in force,” states Section 34 (2).
This section dealing with serving judges leaves the problem unsolved. No case can be registered against a serving judge without the permission of the Chief Justice of India, following a Supreme Court judgment in 1991.
This allowed Justice Nirmal Yadav of Punjab and Haryana High Court, allegedly involved in the cash-at-door scam of 2008, to avoid criminal prosecution.