Bill for accountability of judges approved by Cabinet

Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts would be subject to scrutiny of a high-level committee and those facing serious charges of misconduct may be asked to step down.

Last Updated: Oct 05, 2010, 21:26 PM IST

New Delhi: Judges of the Supreme Court and
High Courts would be subject to scrutiny of a high-level
committee and those facing serious charges of misconduct may
be asked to step down, according to a new bill that was
approved by the Union Cabinet on Tuesday.

The much-delayed Judicial Standards and Accountability
Bill, 2010 provides for setting up of a five-member Oversight
Committee to be headed by a former Chief Justice of India and
including the Attorney General to go into complaints against
members of the higher judiciary.

Other members of the apex committee would be a Supreme
Court judge, a Chief Justice of a High Court and an eminent
person nominated by the President.

The bill, which seeks to replace the Judges (Inquiry)
Act, 1968 while retaining its basic features, is being
introduced in Parliament amid growing incidents of allegations
of misconduct against judges.

"The enactment of the bill will address the growing
concerns regarding the need to ensure greater accountability
of the higher judiciary by bringing in more transparency and
would further strengthen the credibility and independence of
the judiciary," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika
Soni told reporters while briefing on the Cabinet decision.

Under the bill, a judge not facing serious charges may be
let off after a warning. However, if any judge faces serious
charges, that would require further investigation, that
particular judge may be asked to step down, Soni said.

The bill has provision for setting up of Scrutiny
Committees to which cases will be referred by the Oversight
Committee.

PTI