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'Scrutinise assets declared by judges'

The government should set-up a mechanism for the scrutiny of wealth declared by the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts and the media should be prohibited from publishing names of judges till the probe against them is not completed, a House panel recommended on Tuesday. Nagendar Sharma reports. Some suggestions

delhi Updated: Aug 31, 2011 01:39 IST
Nagendar Sharma

The government should set-up a mechanism for the scrutiny of wealth declared by the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts and the media should be prohibited from publishing names of judges till the probe against them is not completed, a House panel recommended on Tuesday.

The parliamentary standing committee on law and justice, headed by Abhishek Singhvi, in its report on the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, has also asked the government to bring a separate bill to change the existing system of appointing judges.

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The report holds the key for maintaining the fragile truce between the government and Team Anna, since it will form the basis for changes in the judicial accountability bill.

Hazare and his team agreed to leave the judiciary out of Lokpal on the assurance that this bill will adequately deal with corruption in the judiciary.

On the declaration of assets by judges, which the judicial accountability bill seeks to make mandatory, the panel has gone a step further. "The committee is of the view that the government should include a mechanism to ensure that the scrutiny of the declaration of assets is implementable."

To evolve such a mechanism, the government may appoint a designated executive agency and can be made to report to the two panels proposed in the judges bill to scrutinise and probe complaints against the judges, the committee stated.

It has recommended that the clause in the bill providing for keeping the inquiry proceedings against judges confidential till the proceedings are over, should apply to the media also.

"The committee apprehends besides the persons mentioned in the clause, media may also be a source of the divulgence of information at various stages of investigation. Therefore the prohibition prescribed may also apply to the media also," states the report.

On whether the comments by judges on other constitutional bodies and individuals in courts during hearing cases, would amount to violation of judges standards being laid down in this bill, Singhvi said the panel's recommendation was confined to verbal comments on other constitutional authorities.

"Let me make it clear that we are not interfering with the any judicial function, what we have recommended .... is that there should be no comments on constitutional bodies," he said.

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