"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wake up to the deficiency in the system

Court perhaps, could not have used more straightforward and strong language than this to vent its frustrations. The question is what will come of it. The following are the words of Justice Katju in a judgment, Raja Khan v. U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board (SLP (Civil) No. 31797 of 2010, DoJ 26th Nov. 2010)

The faith of the common man in the country is shaken to the core by such shocking and outrageous orders such as the kind which have been passed by the Single Judge.

We are sorry to say but a lot of complaints are coming against certain Judges of the Allahabad High Court relating to their integrity. Some Judges have their kith and kin practising in the same Court, and within a few years of starting practice the sons or relations of the Judge become multi-millionaires, have huge bank balances, luxurious cars, huge houses and are enjoying a luxurious life. This is a far cry from the days when the sons and other relatives of Judges could derive no benefit from their relationship and had to struggle at the bar like any other lawyer.

We do not mean to say that all lawyers who have close relations as Judges of the High Court are misusing that relationship. Some are scrupulously taking care that no one should lift a finger on this account. However, others are shamelessly taking advantage of this relationship.

There are other serious complaints also against some Judges of the High Court.

The Allahabad High Court really needs some house cleaning (both Allahabad and Lucknow Bench), and we request Hon'ble the Chief Justice of the High Court to do the needful, even if he has to take some strong measures, including recommending transfers of the incorrigibles.

We entirely agree with the view taken by the Learned Division Bench in the impugned judgment. In view of the foregoing, we find no merit in this petition which is accordingly dismissed.

Let a copy of this order be sent to the Registrar Generals/Registrars of all High Courts for being placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Courts.

The SC failed to find valid legal reasons for the two ex-parte orders of the (learned) single judge of the HC of Allahabad. On the other hand the court imputes extraneous considerations as the motivation for such orders.

Technically, the orders of the single judge are without jurisdiction, in a non-maintainable petition, giving final relief in the interim order.

The merit of the case be as it may, the question is what next. Especially since the malaise is pervasive. Justice Katju’s formula is to send the copy of this admonition to the CJ of the Allhabad HC to “do the needful” mentioning strong measures like ‘transfer of the incorrigible.’ Also to send it to all HC for the consideration of respective CJs

The very fact that a SC judge came out in open, recording in a judgment about the widespread corruption is by no means a simple thing. The existing system of self- regulation has proven to be inadequate in more occasion than one. It is time that the ongoing debate about judicial accountability is taken to its logical conclusion.


Anonymous said...

I think the RTI activists need to follow up on this order by the SCI. RTI activists need to take up this issue once in 3 months to see if some action has been take by the relevant High Court. There is public interest involved in this. Hence, there is very less chance of the relevant High Court registry denying requests on follow up action taken on this order.

Jasmine said...

Seems to be a workable idea.
Hope you have noticed the recent order of the SC, referring the appeal on the CIC order regarding the file noting and proceedings of collegium that superceded Justice Shah, to Constitutional Bench. The judgment has some intersting observations about the right,public interest involved and the and the need to balance the right.