Government decides to retain clause in Judicial Standards bill


New Delhi, Dec 13: Government tonight decided to retain a clause in a bill on judicial standards which debars judges from making verbal comments against any constitutional authority in open courts.
A meeting of the Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,  approved amendments to the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill already passed in the Lok Sabha and is pending in Rajya Sabha.
While deciding to retain the controversial clause, it has made some changes in it to ensure it "stands the test of Article 14 which deals with equality before law," sources said.
The earlier clause prohibited judges from making "unwarranted comments against conduct of any constitutional or statutory authority or statutory bodies or statutory institutions or any chairperson or member or officer thereof, or on the matters which are pending or likely to arise for judicial determination." The amended clause debars judges from making unwarranted comments against conduct of any "constitutional body and other persons."
The clause is part of restatement of values for judges. In a bid to bring more clarity on the subject, the restatement of values for judges has been put in a separate Schedule of the Bill - Schedule II, the sources said.
On May 7, 1997, the Supreme Court had in its Full Court adopted a Charter called the "Restatement of Values of Judicial Life" to serve as a guide to be observed by Judges, essential for independent, strong and respected judiciary indispensable in the impartial administration of justice.
Another amendment relates to issuance of advisory against judges. Instead of the Oversight Committee, the respective Chief Justices of the High Courts or the Supreme Court will issue advisory now, they said.
"It will remain in some form," Law Minister Ashwani Kumar had said recerntly on the controversial clause.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha during the budget session this year amid din over Telangana issue.
Following stiff opposition by eminent jurists and the higher judiciary, government had agreed to have a relook at the clause even as it decided against tabling it in the Rajya Sabha in the last monsoon session.
The Opposition too had demanded amending the clause.
It allows the citizens to complain against corrupt judges but has been facing criticism for the provision which jurists say would "virtually gag" the judges in open courts.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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