Faced with strong objections from top jurists, the government has assured them of dropping a controversial provision, which debars judges from making verbal comments against any constitutional authorities in open courts, from the bill to discipline judges.
The bill titled — Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, which has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, allows the citizens to complain against corrupt judges, but has been facing criticism for this provision which jurists says would "virtually gag" the judges in open courts.
"The provision amounts to virtually gagging the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts. It runs contrary to the basic principles of the Constitution," Justice Verma said.
Justice Venkatachaliah said the provision was not a part of the original bill, which the government had discussed with them. "It involves the important question of whether it would lead to interference in the judiciary's functioning."
Both the former CJIs appeared convinced with Khurshid's assurance that it would be done away with. The rethink within the government over this clause in its major bill, which is a part of its overall anti-graft agenda, is also based on the fact that it requires the support of opposition parties to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha, where it does not have a majority.
The clause states: "No judge shall make unwarranted comments against the conduct of any constitutional or statutory institution or officials at the time of hearing matters in open courts during the course of hearing matters."
This particular clause was recommended by the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice in November last and was included in the bill passed by the Lok Sabha on March 30.