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CJ must respect dignity of office, says Law Minister
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Gharonda (Karnal), February 12
In a sharp reaction to yesterday’s outburst by the outgoing Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, during an interview to a news channel, Union Law Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj today remarked that the Chief Justice should be aware of the responsibilities that are attached to high offices such as the one held by him.

Talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of a social function here, the Law Minister said: “I cannot comment on the conduct of the Chief Justice but he must respect the dignity of the office. I see no reason why anyone should be unhappy over minor issues such as transfers. It is the duty of the Chief Justice to take all Judges along. Though he is first-among-equals, he must take all brother Judges into confidence.”

Asked if some more Judges of Punjab and Haryana High Court would be transferred, Mr Bhardwaj replied in the negative.

“Except for Justice Nirmal Singh whose transfer to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court is still to be cleared, no other Judges is being transferred in the immediate future. However, I must clarify that none of the transfers ordered in the past few days are punitive. I am hopeful all Judges would work in complete harmony and dedication. Already a lot of damage has been done to the sacrosanct institution of the judiciary in the Punjab and Haryana High Court due to trivial matters. All this has to stop,” he maintained.

Asked about the posting of a new Chief Justice to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Bhardwaj said that the process for appointment of Mr Justice D.K. Jain of the Delhi High Court as Chief Justice in Chandigarh would be completed soon.

Advising the lawyer community to refrain from falling prey to needless gossip, the Law Minister remarked that had the Bar reacted in a proper manner, the stand-off between the Chief Justice and majority of the Judges would not have turned into such a major issue.

“I wanted to interact with members of the Bar in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. But, due to the controversy, I refrained from doing so. But, now that everything has been settled, I will surely come to Chandigarh at the earliest. The respect that Punjab and Haryana High Court was given in the country can be restored only if the lawyers play a positive role,” said the Law Minister, who himself practised as a lawyer in the Punjab and Haryana High Court many years back.

To a question about the large number of vacancies in the High Court, Mr Bhardwaj said he could not do anything as no names had been recommended by the collegium of Punjab and Haryana High Court. “But, now that things will improve, I am sure the vacancies will be filled soon. The Congress-led Government has created a record of sorts by appointing over 100 new Judges,” he disclosed.

Asked if there was need to strengthen the system of regulating corrupt and wayward elements in the higher judiciary (High Courts), Mr Bhardwaj said while the UPA Government would not interfere in the functioning of the judiciary, if the Supreme Court so desired some system could be put in place.

“A system like the National Judicial Council on the lines of US system, where the Chief Justice of India and five senior-most Judges of the Supreme Court deal with allegations of corruption and nepotism, can be considered. But, the initial step has to be taken by the Supreme Court,” he clarified.

Mr Bhardwaj also asked Mr Dewan Sat Pal Chopra, former President of the Karnal Bar Association, to organise a conference on criminal justice system law in Karnal as soon as possible.

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