A proposal which seeks to change the present system of investigating complaints of misbehaviour and incapacity against judges of the Supreme Court and high courts requires "further consideration", the government said today, indicating that a bill in this regard may not come in the immediate future. Referring to the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill moved by the erstwhile UPA government, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told the Rajya Sabha that the bill had lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
"The matter requires further consideration in consultation with various stakeholders," he said. Though the bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in March, 2012, it had undergone changes in the Rajya Sabha following protests by the judiciary and jurists who had questioned some of its provisions. Prasad said the proposal will also enforce "greater accountability".
The lapsed bill provided for a comprehensive mechanism for handling complaints made by citizens on grounds of alleged misbehaviour and incapacity against judges of the Supreme Court and high courts. It also provided for a mechanism to take action against those found guilty after investigation. It also laid down judicial standards and made it incumbent on the judges to declare their assets and liabilities.
On another question on corruption in the judiciary, he said such allegations have come to the government's notice and have been reported in the media from time to time. He said as per the in-house mechanism for the higher judiciary, the Chief Justice of India is competent to receive complaints against the conduct of judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of the 24 high courts. Similarly, the high court Chief Justices are competent to receive complaints against the conduct of judges of their their courts.
At a recent meeting of former Chief Justices of India and top jurists with Law Minister Prasad and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the bill had come up for discussion. But most of the time was used to discuss another bill which seeks to scrap the collegium system for appointment of judges.