Watch the talk will be the new mantra for the Supreme Court and high court judges once the new judicial standards proposed in a bill come into effect.
The proposed Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, which will replace the four decade-old Judges Inquiry Act, has laid down 14 guidelines for judges. These guidelines will be called judicial standards.
The law ministry has sent the final draft of the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill to the cabinet for approval. After the cabinet’s approval, the bill is likely to be introduced in the current session of parliament.
“No judge shall give an interview to the media in relation to any of his judgment delivered, or order made, or direction issued, by him in any case adjudicated by him,” states chapter II of the draft bill, titled Judicial Standards to be Followed by Judges.
“No judge shall enter into a public debate or express his views in public on political matters, except views expressed by a judge in his individual capacity on issues of public interest, other than as a judge during a private discussion or at an academic forum,” says the bill.
Among other things that the bill bars the judges from indulging in include allowing any member of his family, who is a practicing lawyer, from “using the residence in which the judge actually resides or use of any other facilities provided to the judge, for professional work of any family member.”
The proposed law expects judges not to “delay delivering a judgment beyond three months after conclusion of arguments and have bias in judicial work or judgments on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”
Any “willful breach of judicial standards” could be treated as misbehaviour, and lead to a disciplinary panel initiating proceedings against the erring judge.
A complaint alleging misbehaviour or corruption would be referred to a scrutiny panel comprising three judges. If the panel finds merit in any complaint, it would be forwarded to an Oversight Committee, which after investigating the matter can refer it to the President for initiating action against the judge.