M A I N   N E W S

CJI seeks powers to deal with ‘errant’ judges

New Delhi, May 1
Exasperated over helplessness in dealing with corrupt and indisciplined judges of the higher judiciary, Chief Justice of India (CJI) V.N. Khare today said the Constitution should be amended to confer more powers on the CJI or a collegium headed by him to deal with “errant” judges.

“I feel exasperated that the CJI has no power under the Constitution to even ask for an explanation from erring judges,” Mr Justice Khare, who retires tomorrow, told PTI in an interview.

He said the in-house mechanism evolved by the Supreme Court in consultation with the Chief Justices of the high courts “morally binds” the judges, but added that it was time the CJI or a collegium of senior apex court judges headed by him was given more powers to deal with the problem of corruption and indiscipline among judges.

The CJI had recently chastised Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for taking en masse leave over differences with their Chief Justice on membership of a controversial resort. It was on his intervention that two High Court judges — Shameet Mukherjee and Arun Madan — resigned last year after being linked to scandals.

Mr Justice Khare took pride in claiming to have restored the image of judiciary, which was at the “lowest ebb” when he took over the reins in the backdrop of “Mysore sex scandals” and “DDA land scams”.

Mr Justice Khare said “mostly it (corruption) is in the subordinate judiciary. The degree varies in the high courts, but there is no corruption in the Supreme Court”.

Asked if impeachment was still the only option to deal with black sheep in the higher judiciary, the CJI said “in the coalition era it is very difficult to impeach a judge and therefore either the CJI or the collegium of senior judges of the apex court headed by him should be given the power of superintendence over the high courts”.

He said, “By two or three decisions, the apex court has taken some powers of superintendence, but that is more like a moral authority”.

“The framers of the Constitution did not know that after 50 years things will collapse. Now, time has come that the CJI should be given power of superintendence over the high courts by amending the Constitution”, Mr Justice Khare said.

Mr Justice Khare rejected the recommendations of the Constitution Review Committee and the Law Commission for setting up a national judicial commission to oversee appointment and transfer of judges of the higher judiciary as also to deal with deviant judges. “It will not help”, the CJI said.

Favouring continuation of the present system for appointment and transfer of judges of the higher judiciary, he said the opinion of the collegium of senior judges, headed by the CJI, had been rightly accorded primacy over the executive as ruled by the apex court.

The CJI expressed concern over the “declining quality” of public prosecutors compared to lawyers defending the accused and lamented that prosecutors were being appointed on political considerations.

“Government advocates are appointed on political grounds. How can you expect merit from them? There are good people who do not charge much money, but they are not appointed”, he said.

Asked if the contempt power was being misused to muzzle truth, the CJI replied in the negative, but said his personal view was that “truth is a good defence”.

The contempt is not being misused but used to execute the orders of the high courts and the Supreme Court under writ jurisdiction, he said.

In a stinging attack, Mr Justice Khare said the Supreme Court stepped in to protect the victims and witnesses in the post-Godhra riot cases as there was “complete collusion” between the accused and the prosecution in Gujarat.

“There was no prosecution in the riot cases at all. Therefore, the Supreme Court stepped in to break the collusion between the prosecution and the accused,” Mr Justice Khare said. — PTI

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |