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Judges must put their house in order

The matter which I wish to highlight is judicial accountability. Judges of the Supreme Court are expected to conform to the highest standards of rectitude and despite an occasional aberration, our apex court commands the highest respect both within the country and abroad.

One troubling feature that seems to take away sheen from the judges is the post-retirement engagement of the Supreme Court Judges and Chief Justices in remunerative legal work. Article 124 of the Constitution forbids them to act or plead in any court or before any authority within the territory of India. It is a well understood legal principle that what cannot be done directly, cannot also be done indirectly.

It is now a known fact that retired judges and Chief Justices (exceptions apart) have been engaging in chamber practice and giving written opinions under their signature for a consideration, for use in any court or before any authority. This action violates against the spirit of Article 124.

Another aspect of judicial accountability relates to arbitration work being done by retired judges/Chief Justices of the apex court for a consideration while heading some statutory commission and enjoying the perks and privileges of a sitting judge/Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The question should not be allowed to remain ambiguous considering the increasing trend of retired judges/Chief Justices engaging in chamber practice, giving opinions which are submitted before courts or other authorities. There is need to amend Article 124 of the Constitution to make explicit what is implicit therein.

Another disturbing trend that has emerged recently is the engagement of retired Chief Justices in filing affidavits before foreign courts on behalf of private clients. It is painful to learn that while one former Chief Justice appearing for the plaintiff, a Japanese company swore an affidavit that speedy justice was a far cry in the Indian courts, another former Chief Justice appearing for the defendant gave evidence on affidavit to say that speedy disposal of cases was possible. The court will have to disbelieve one of them an unfortunate situation indeed!

A former Chief Justice appeared in the witness box in a US District Court to depose regarding the tardiness of the Indian judicial system.

One wonders if any judge of the US/UK apex court would appear or swear an affidavit in a court in another country.

These nagging questions must find an answer if we have to maintain the dignity and majesty of our judicial system. The danger to the judiciary which is responsible for preservation of the rule of law and which is the bedrock of democracy is all from within and not  from outside.

Anguish and concern have been voiced by two former Chief Justices of India Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, Justice J.S. Verma and Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer and some eminent lawyers like Mr Fali S. Nariman about this disturbing phenomenon in public fora and in articles touching upon the subject.

I feel that retired Supreme Court Judges/Chief Justices should be forbidden, if necessary, by amending Article 124 from post-retirement activity which may be influenced by the earlier office they held. The remedy lies in giving them full salary as pension. The government can utilise their services as arbitrators on its behalf and could seek their advice on important matters in national interest.

SUDARSHAN AGARWAL, Former Governor of Uttarakhand and Sikkim

Glimmer of hope

With the news of the Reliance industries planning to start gas production from January next year, the common man and housewives like me can look up with a glimmer of hope especially when it comes to the price of the cooking gas.

We have to take care of the family budget which basically revolves around the price of an LPG cylinder. A cylinder costs us around Rs 350 which is a big burden for the salaried class.

Reliance is known to be a company working for the common man. At its new retail outlets and fresh stores, things of daily use are available at subsidised rates. With the gas production, we hope the cooking gas will also be available at subsidised rates. This will help us save a bit more on our budgets.


Centre must slash petrol prices

The prices of petroleum products were increased on June 4 following the increase in the international oil prices. The people have been heavily burdened due to the oil price hike.

Now that the prices of crude oil in the international market have come down from $147 to $97 a barrel, the Centre should immediately reduce the prices of petroleum products and pass on the benefit of fall in prices in the international market directly to the consumers who have suffered a lot.

H. S. GHAI, Khanna 

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor, neatly hand-written or typed in double space, should not exceed the 150-word limit. These can be sent by post to the Letters Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh-160030. Letters can also be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribuneindia.com 



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