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Amend Constitution for judicial body: Panel

House committee keeps judges out of lokpal, but says corruption in judiciary cannot be left 'unpoliced'. Nagendar Sharma reports.

delhi Updated: Dec 09, 2011 01:25 IST
Nagendar Sharma
Nagendar Sharma
Hindustan Times

The Constitution should be amended to set up a National Judicial Commission with powers to initiate criminal prosecution and sacking of corrupt judges, the parliamentary panel on the lokpal bill is likely to recommend on Friday.

The House panel on law and justice, headed by Abhishek Singhvi, which unanimously turned down a key demand of Team Anna to keep judiciary out of lokpal, has however concluded that it cannot be left "unpoliced" in matters of corruption.

“A National Judicial Commission (NJC) must be set up to create a broad-based and comprehensive model of judges appointments, including, if necessary, by way of amendments in the Constitution,” states the report.

“The NJC has to be entrusted with powers of both transfer and criminal prosecution of judges for corruption…it may also be given the power for dismissal/removal of judges by relevant amendments in the constitution,” the panel stated.

The apex regulator of the legal profession in the country, the Bar Council of India, welcomed the recommendation. "The setting-up of the NJC has been a very old demand of the BCI and the legal fraternity, we welcome this recommendation," said BCI chairman, Ashok Parija.

In its report, the panel has explained the reasons for not bringing the judiciary under the Lokpal's purview. "If the judiciary was included, it would have resulted in possible and direct prosecution of even a Supreme Court judge before a magistrate. The same would have applied to high court judges," states the report.

The panel has made a mention of the judicial accountability bill in its report, which figures in the government list among the bills to be passed during the winter session.

Desisting from criticising the judicial accountability bill, the panel stated that it is meant to strengthen the existing in-house procedure of the judiciary to deal with "wrong behaviour" of judges.

Referring to the appointment of judges, the panel stated:"It cannot and should not be allowed to continue in the hands of a self appointed common law mechanism" (the collegium system - which means a panel of judges recommends names to the government.)

The panel has also recommended that the former judges working as chairpersons and members of tribunals should also be brought under the NJC. "They should be covered in the legislation dealing with corruption in higher judiciary," states the report.

First Published: Dec 08, 2011 23:20 IST