M A I N   N E W S

Govt to set up Judicial Oversight Committee
To look into complaints against judges of SC, HC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 1
In a major step, the government today moved a Bill in the Parliament for setting up a National Judicial Oversight Committee for going into allegations of misconduct against Judges of the High Courts(HC) and the Supreme Court(SC)and imposing “minor penalties” or recommending removal from office.

The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, aimed at replacing the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968, envisages establishment of the Committee by the Central government through a notification. It would consist of a retired Chief Justice of India(CJI), appointed by the President, a Judge of the SC and the Chief Justice(CJ) of a HC. The Attorney General would be the ex-officio member and an eminent person would be nominated by the President as its member.

The Committee would first refer the complaints to the appropriate Scrutiny Panel. The panel for the SC would consist of a former CJI and two Judges of the SC. The panel for the HCs would consist of a former CJ of that HC and two Judges of that HC. The panels would submit their reports to the Committee within a maximum period of three months.

The Oversight Committee would constitute an investigation committee to go into the complaints recommended by the scrutiny panels. The oversight and investigations committees would have the power to summon persons from any part of India and ask for any public record. The investigation committee would also have the power of “search and seizure.”

Under Clause 34 of the proposed Act, the Oversight Committee would have the power to dismiss complaints or impose minor penalties such as warnings and advisories. If the charges were of the “serious nature warranting” removal, it could request the Judge to voluntarily resign “and if he fails to do so, then advise the President accordingly who shall refer the matter to the Parliament.”





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