The Judicial Accountability Bill

The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 aims to set judicial standards and make judges accountable for their lapses. At present, there is no satisfactory legal mechanism for dealing with complaints against judges. The Bill will replace the Judges Inquiry Act while retaining its basic features. Introduced recently in the parliament it proposes the following steps but fails to provide an effective deterrent against corruption in judiciary.

  • It proposes to raise the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years.
  • Judges will have to declare their assets and liabilities, and also that of their spouse and children.
  • It lays down judicial standards and provides for accountability of judges and expedient mechanism for investigating into individual complaints against judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and to regulate the procedure for such investigation. It contemplates setting up of a national oversight committee, to be headed by a former Chief Justice of India, with which the public can lodge complaints against erring judges, including the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justices of the High Courts.
  • If the charges are found to be serious, the committee can request the judge concerned to resign. If the judge does not do so, the oversight committee will forward the case to the President with an advisory for his removal.
  • It also proposes to form a panel to incorporate a provision to have in-camera proceedings of the committee which will scrutinize complaints against judges.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Law and Justice has recommended a provision to “restrain” judges from making “unwarranted comments” against other constitutional bodies or persons in courts.

It will require judges not to have close ties with any member of the Bar, especially those who practice in the same court.

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