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'Judges should not comment on constitutional bodies'

Judges should not make "unnecessary comments" in open courts against other constitutional bodies and individuals holding such posts, according to a parliamentary panel, which will submit its report to the government on Wednesday to be tabled in Parliament. Nagendar Sharma reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 30, 2011 00:12 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Judges should not make "unnecessary comments" in open courts against other constitutional bodies and individuals holding such posts, according to a parliamentary panel, which will submit its report to the government on Wednesday to be tabled in Parliament.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on law and justice, in its report on the Judicial Standards and Accountability bill, has asked for the scope of mandatory judicial standards proposed for judges to be widened.

"The committee feels that judges should restrain themselves from making unwarranted comments against other constitutional/statutory bodies and persons in open courts while hearing cases," says the panel's report.

It has asked the government to expand the clause that prohibits judges from entering into a public debate on issues pending before them.

The judicial standards laid down in the Judges Accountability bill states that "No judge shall enter into a public debate or express his/her views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending for judicial determination by him/her."

The standing committee's report on the bill holds the key to strengthening it, which is one of the main arrangements in the fragile truce between the government and Anna Hazare's team.

Team Anna is willing to leave out the judiciary from the proposed Lokpal bill if the government agrees to make the Judges Accountability bill stronger to deal with corruption in the judiciary.

The parliamentary panel has also recommended an amendment in the bill to "enable the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha chairperson respectively, to nominate one MP each from each House in the National Judicial Oversight Committee."

The parliamentary panel also questioned the composition of the 'Complaints Scrutiny Panel', which will look into complaints against judges and forward them to the Oversight Committee - only if the scrutiny panel finds merit in the complaints.

"Under the present bill, a complaint against a judge would only be scrutinised by his colleagues," says the report.

The parliamentary panel has also asked the government to remove a clause that mentions five years imprisonment and a Rs 5 lakh fine to persons whose complaints turn out to be false.