The chief Justice of India (CJI) should put in place a permanent mechanism to probe corruption allegations against judges on the lines of judicial councils in the United States and Canada, the government said on Wednesday.
The mechanism in form of a committee, with five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court as its members, could provide a solution to the decades-old problem of how to initiate an inquiry into allegations against the judges, the Law Ministry said.
Relying on nearly four decade-old successful functioning of judicial council systems in US and Canada, the Law Ministry wants the Indian judiciary to have a similar body, on its own initiative without any external interference.
Judicial councils in these countries allow common people to file complaints against judges. If chief justices of respective courts find merit in these complaints, they ask the judges committee to investigate the allegations and give a verdict in the matter.
The Law Ministry also studied the complaints procedure in the United Kingdom, where a specially appointed Judicial Conduct Commissioner looks into allegations of corruption and misconduct against judges.
The ministry has gone public with its views on corruption in judiciary at a time when the Supreme Court is struggling to find a solution on what kind of a probe should be ordered into the multi-crore Ghaziabad provident fund scam, allegedly involving 36 judges.
“The government does not favour a situation where police could be given permission to investigate the judges. This would lower judiciary’s credibility and undermine its independence. A judges committee should be formed at the earlies,” ministry sources said.
The CJI is empowered to take an initiative to form a permanent mechanism for judicial accountability by forming the judges committee without waiting for the government to suggest such a step, sources said.
Law Minister HR Bhardwaj said transparency in judicial functioning and conduct could not be introduced from outside.
“Parliament had set an example by expelling 10 MPs found guilty of accepting cash for asking questions. It is high time now that the judiciary also sets its house in order by setting up an internal mechanism”, he said.