Panel suggests minor penalties for errant judges | india | Hindustan Times
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Panel suggests minor penalties for errant judges

THE NATIONAL Judicial Council, the proposed body to hear complaints against judges, may be empowered to impose "minor measures" on errant ones ? like censuring them and even withholding judicial work from them. The recommendation was made by the Law Commission in a bid to give more teeth to the Judges (Inquiry) Bill 2005.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2006 01:16 IST
ANIL Anand

THE NATIONAL Judicial Council, the proposed body to hear complaints against judges, may be empowered to impose "minor measures" on errant ones —  like censuring them and even withholding judicial work from them. The recommendation was made by the Law Commission in a bid to give more teeth to the Judges (Inquiry) Bill 2005.

Responding to the Law Ministry's request for suggestions on the draft bill, the commission has included the particular provision to deal with charges of "deviant or bad behaviour" on the part of judicial authorities.

The measures recommended by the commission include issuing advisories to the judges concerned, requesting them to retire, censuring and admonishing them and even withholding judicial work for a limited period. These will be for charges that do not warrant the removal of a judge.

Seeking to bring the higher judiciary under public scrutiny, the new bill also proposes a "complaint procedure" under which anyone can approach the National Judicial Council (NJC) and file complaints against judges of the Supreme Court and high courts, but not against the chief justice of India.

Under the existing Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968, investigation into misbehaviour and incapacity of judges, including the chief justice of India, is made only when a reference is made by the Lok Sabha speaker or the Rajya Sabha chairman to a three-member committee.

Minor action, however, will be taken only on cases that come under the complaint procedure. Significant among the Law Commission's 33 recommendations is the "whistle blower's clause" to protect the identity of a complainant:  "If a complainant is apprehensive of reprisals, he should have the right to request the council to keep his identity secret.”

The Judges (Inquiry) Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 1964 and passed in 1968, laying down procedure for investigation into complaints against judges and chief justices of the Supreme Court and high courts. The NJC will comprise the CJI, two senior judges of the apex court and two senior chief justices of high courts.