New law against ‘uncle judges’ coming soon
With the Supreme Court coming down heavily on the Allahabad High Court, saying the kith and kin of some judges were practising as lawyers in the same court, the government proposes to check the widespread trend in the country by making a fresh law. Nagendar Sharma reports. Curbing the trenddelhi Updated: Nov 28, 2010 02:00 IST
With the Supreme Court coming down heavily on the Allahabad High Court, saying the kith and kin of some judges were practising as lawyers in the same court, the government proposes to check the widespread trend in the country by making a fresh law.
The issue of ‘uncle judges’ was first raised by the Law Commission of India, which advises the law ministry on complex legal issues, in its report submitted to law minister M Veerappa Moily in August last year.
Based on the feedback provided by the commission, the law ministry is now ready with the judges standards and accountability bill to be introduced in the Parliament, which seeks to make it mandatory for judges to follow judicial standards.
Moily was cautious in his response to the unprecedented remarks by the country’s top court about the largest high court.
“It is a serious matter,” was all he was willing to say.
Ministry officials admitted the issue was not confined to the Allahabad High Court alone. “We have information about Himachal, Punjab & Haryana and Rajasthan high courts,” said an official.
“Often we hear complaints about uncle judges. As a matter of practice, a person who has worked as a district judge or has practiced as a lawyer in a high court for many years is appointed as a judge, he is bound to have colleagues and kith-kin there,” the law commission had stated.
“Even in government services, particularly, Class II and upwards, officers are not given postings in their home districts. In the same way, judges whose kith and kin are practicing in a high court should not be posted there. This will eliminate uncle judges,” the report stated.
Following the strong observations by the commission, the ministry, in its new bill, has made a specific reference to address the issue of ‘uncle judges’.
“No judge shall permit any member of his immediate family (including spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law or any other close relative) who is a member of the bar to appear before him or be associated in any manner with any case to be dealt by the judge,” states section 3 of the bill.
Further the definition of close relative includes brother or sister of the judge, brother or sister of the spouse of the judge and brother or sister of either of the parents of the judge, according to the proposed law.
It also debars any practicing lawyer who falls in the family and relative category of the judge to use his residence “for their professional work.