The government appears inclined to accept a controversial recommendation by a parliamentary panel that judges should refrain from making "unwarranted comments" in open court against other constitutional authorities.
The justice department of the law ministry, in its analysis of the report submitted by the parliamentary standing committee for law and justice, on the judicial standards and accountability bill, has supported this recommendation because "unwarranted comments” amount to “misconduct”."The committee feels the bill should specifically mention that judges should restrain themselves from making unwarranted comments against other constitutional/statutory bodies/institutions/persons in open court while hearing cases,"stated the panel report, submitted during the monsoon session of Parliament.
The judicial standards bill for the first time allows citizens to complain against corrupt judges, but activists and opposition parties have criticised it for “shrouding the entire process in secrecy”.
The justice department in its amended version of the bill is also likely to ask the government to seek Parliament's nod for disallowing judges to “enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters which are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination by him”.
The justice department favours another recommendation of the panel - provision for in camera (secret) proceedings of the committee that will scrutinise complaints against judges.
The parliamentary panel report had stated this was necessary to ensure that the judge in question did not face “unwarranted defamation” in the initial stage of investigation.
The legal arm of the government is also in agreement with the panel to reduce the punishment and amount of fine for individuals whose complaints against judges are found to be frivolous.