Even as calls for transparency in judiciary are getting louder, the union law ministry is mulling over a proposal to create an in-house mechanism to deal with complaints against judges and other judicial officers. In this new proposal, the police machinery will not be involved till concrete evidence surfaces.
The law ministry believes that giving police the power to investigate cases against judges may lead to “motivated” attacks.
At present, there is no centralised mechanism to probe complaints against judicial officers, if any, either from litigants or from the lawyers fraternity.
The draft proposal says, “In-house mechanism for holding departmental enquiries under supervision of the high courts needs to be ensured in matters relating to departmental actions. Police machinery should not be involved.”
“Judicial officers and staff need to be protected against motivated attacks from unscrupulous elements acting with ulterior motives. Policies may have to be set to institutionalize internal mechanism for quick and effective system of departmental actions in deserving cases and parental protection in cases of motivated attacks,” the proposal states.
“Special investigation department for judicial officers and vigilance cells for staff members is essential and guidance is required to be given in case of minor lapse. Departmental actions are warranted in case of prima facie misconduct,” the proposal reads.
If the proposal comes to be accepted for which the draft will first have to be cleared by the law minister and sent to the cabinet for consideration a complaint against a judicial officer can be filed with the Chief Justice of India. The CJI’s team will look into the complaint, and if found worthy, the complainant will have to file an affidavit following which an in-house committee will look take it up.
“All matters pertaining to judicial misconduct and other complaints against the judges would be referred to the in-house mechanism to ensure accountability of the judiciary,” said a law ministry official seeking anonymity.
The proposal comes against the backdrop of the government preparing to get the Judicial Accountability Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. The bill provides for the executive to have a say in the appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges and helps in having more check and balances.
The Bill moots a Judicial Appointments Commission, comprising of the CJI, an ex-officio chairperson, two Supreme Court judges next to the CJI in seniority as ex-officio members, the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons, to be nominated by the collegium consisting of the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, as members.
The Secretary in the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry will be the convener of the appointment commission.