The government may be forced to reconsider a controversial provision in the bill to discipline judges, which was passed by Lok Sabha last week, following strong objections from certain personalities of high standing in the judiciary.
The provision in question involves debarring judges from making oral comments against constitutional authorities in open courts.
JS Verma and MN Venkatachalliah — two former Chief Justices of India who were consulted by the government during the drafting of the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill along with Justice VN Khare — have opposed the clause.
HT has learnt that the jurists’ tough stand has made the government rethink this clause in its major bill on judicial reforms, which is a part of its overall anti-graft agenda. The government also knows it will require the support of the opposition to get it passed in Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority.The controversial clause in the bill states: "Misbehaviour by judges means making unwarranted oral comments against conduct of any constitutional or statutory institution or officials at the time of hearing matters in open court."
Speaking on the clause, Justice Verma said, “It is arbitrary. Who will decide which observation made by judges should be treated as judicial misconduct?”
“I am demeaned and insulted that a law is needed to regulate our action. Let the CJI be made responsible for judges’ conduct,” Justice Verma said.
Justice Verma had first raised the issue in the presence of vice-president Hamid Ansari, home minister P Chidambaram and law minister Salman Khurshid earlier this week.
Justice Venkatachalliah said the motive of such a provision was questionable. “It infringes on judicial independence,” he said.