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CJI: We need a clean man in black robe to uphold the integrity of the judiciary
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 16
At a time when two High Court Judges — Chief Justice PD Dinakaran of Sikkim HC and Justice Soumitra Sen of Kolkata HC — are facing impeachment proceedings in Parliament for their removal, Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia today said “political protection should not be given to corrupt Judges.”

Without referring to the two Judges or anyone else, the Chief Justice called for steps to make the judiciary accountable without affecting its independence. CJI Kapadia made the remarks while delivering the fifth MC Setalvad Memorial Lecture. The CJI, however, clarified that he was expressing these sentiments in his capacity as a “student of law” and not as the Chief Justice.

Concerned over the judiciary's image coming under a cloud in the wake of corruption charges, Chief Justice SH Kapadia today said there was a need for “clean man in black robe” and asked the political class not to protect corrupt judges. “We have to live by examples. We need a clean man in black robe to uphold the independence and integrity of the judiciary,” the CJI said while cautioning the judges from inevitably ending up in the political arena.

In the lecture, the CJI dealt with, in great detail, various aspects of the legal system in general and the judiciary in particular, including judicial ethics, structuring of judgments, accountability and judicial independence in the context of judicial activism and the code of judicial conduct.

Talking about judicial ethics, he advised judges to stay away from accepting any favours from the government. “The judge should not accept patronage through which he acquires office, preferential treatment or pre-retirement assignment. These can give rise to corruption if and when quid pro quo makes a demand on such judges.”

On accountability, he said that in a society based on the rule of law and democratic principles of governance, “every power holder is, in the final analysis, accountable to the people. The legislature is accountable to the electorate. The executive is indirectly accountable to the people through the elected legislature.

“There is no reason why the judiciary should not be accountable to the community for its due performance of the functions vested in it. Power is given on trust and judicial power is no exception. The challenge, however, is to determine how the judiciary can be held to account, consistent with the principle of judicial independence.”

Rejecting the model in many of the Commonwealth nations where the judiciary was accountable to either the legislature or the executive, he said “at times this power has been grossly abused in some of the countries.” “I would venture to suggest that Judges, unlike legislators, ministers or public servants, should be accountable to the jurisdiction they serve through their absolute adherence to a set of core judicial values,” he said without elaborating. The CJI advised judges to stay away from community organisations, and remain a “little aloof and isolated from the community at large,” besides avoiding contacts with “lawyers, individuals or political parties, their leaders or ministers” except on purely social occasions.

Others who spoke on the occasion were Bar Association of India chief Anil B Divan, BAI Associate President PP Rao, Delhi HC CJ Dipak Misra, and former Attorney General Ashok H Desai. Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, who was to be the chief guest, did not attend the function.





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