In a bid to maintain balance between independence of judiciary and the proposed law to discipline judges, the government has decided to replace its code of conduct for them with a resolution adopted by the Supreme Court 15 years back.
The Union cabinet on Thursday evening approved fresh changes proposed by the law ministry in Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, already passed by the Lok Sabha in March, but yet to be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.
"Eminent jurists have expressed concern over the code of conduct for judges mentioned in the bill. They have found some of the provisions rather harsh and not so practicable," the ministry stated in its proposal.
"Top jurists feel instead of rewriting the code as has been done in the bill, it would be prudent to incorporate the restatement of values for judges, which has been accepted by the judiciary," it informed the cabinet.
The law ministry pointed out that giving a legal sanction to the restatement of values by making them a part of the bill to be passed by parliament, will "save the government from undue criticism as well as legal challenge to some of its provisions."
The restatement of values adopted by the Supreme Court in its full court meeting chaired by the then Chief Justice of India, JS Verma in May 1997, lists a 16 point guideline for judges on how they should conduct themselves and asks them to "practice a degree of aloofness consistent with dignity of office."
Government sources indicated that though the code of conduct drew heavily from the restatement of values itself, but it is the "tone and tenor" of the do's and do not's for judges in the bill which attracted criticism.
Restatement of values advise judges to stay away from elections of clubs, avoid close association with individual lawyers, no close relative should appear in courts before them and even avoid media interviews.