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Bill on judges? conduct on Cabinet agenda

The government is expected to clear the decks to introduce a law in Parliament to make the judiciary accountable, writes Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 05:53 IST

The government is expected to clear the decks on Thursday to introduce a law in Parliament to make the judiciary accountable.

The Union Cabinet would consider the law ministry’s proposal to amend the 1968 Judges Inquiry Act to provide for constituting the National Judicial Council, a body of senior members of the judiciary to look into complaints of misconduct against judges of the Supreme Court and high courts.

So far, impeachment is the only action that can be taken against a judge but it is too complex and cumbersome to be effective.

Rather than tinker with this procedure, the proposed amendment seeks to introduce “minor measures” against errant judges that could include powers to withdraw work, warning or asking them to resign.

The Chief Justice of India would head the council. Complaints against a SC judge are expected to be heard by a panel of four senior-most SC judges, the council would have representation of the high courts to look into complaints against high court judges. This would ensure that introducing accountability in the judiciary remains an in-house affair.

The Union Cabinet is also expected to consider a home ministry proposal to replace the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act with a new Foreign Contribution (Management and Control) Bill.

The Cabinet had last year referred the draft legislation to the group of ministers (GoM) in face of protests from the non-governmental organisations that provisions in the legislation were too draconian. The GoM has since then submitted its report to the home ministry that has carried out a “series of amendments”.

A home ministry official said in its fresh form, the draft law sought to strike a balance between these concerns and the ministry’s continued concern that foreign contributions are only utilised for “genuine activities without compromising on national security”.

Nearly 18,540 of the 30,321 registered organisations in India collectively received foreign funds to the tune of Rs 6,256.68 crore during 2004-05.


First Published: Nov 09, 2006 05:53 IST