The cash-at-judge’s door scam in Chandigarh and the Ghaziabad provident fund are “test cases” for the judiciary to prove it is serious in taking action against corrupt judges, the government said on Thursday.
Breaking its silence on the two high-profile cases, which have rattled the judiciary and the government, the Law Ministry asked the Chief Justice of India (CJI) to take “effective measures,” a ministry official said.
Law Minister HR Bhardwaj conveyed the government’s concern to CJI KG Balakrishnan, the official said.
The government has welcomed the CJI’s action of forming a three-member panel of judges to probe the cash-
at-judge’s door, but it also wants the judiciary to form a permanent committee to probe allegations against judges.
“After the disturbing cases recently, both of Chandigarh and Ghaziabad, nobody can say the judiciary is free from corruption. A permanent mechanism in the form of a judges committee is immediately required,” Law Minister HR Bhardwaj told HT.
“The government does not want to interfere as it feels the CJI is competent and has sufficient powers to deal with such practices, but options like a new law for judicial accountability are always available for us,” he said.
Bhardwaj said a retired CJI went on record, saying a third of the judiciary was corrupt and effective corrective action is required. “Government has been cautious in reacting to reports of corruption in judiciary, but it can’t ignore them. We will wait for the judiciary’s response in these two cases before finalising our next step,” he said.
Rejecting the argument that the UPA had shelved the Judges Inquiry Bill under pressure from its allies and to avoid confrontation with the judiciary, Bhardwaj said, “The bill... is ready from our ministry’s side, but the government does not want to push it in a hurry, without consulting all authorities concerned. We would like the judiciary to take an initiative on accountability measures.”
In the cash-at-judge’s-door scam, a former Haryana law officer and three others are in custody for allegedly trying to bribe a Punjab and Haryana High Court judge. The latter has since proceeded on leave.
Both the CBI and a judges’ panel formed by the CJI are separately probing the cash-at-judge’s-door scam.
The Ghaziabad PF case is a multi-crore affair implicating as many as 36 judges.