New Delhi: Chief Justice SH Kapadia Wednesday cautioned the government not to trample upon the independence of judiciary while enacting law to make judges accountable.
"Judicial accountability should be balanced with judicial independence," Kapadia said in his address at a function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association on the occasion of India`s 66th Independence Day.
He said the separation of powers as prescribed under the constitution between the judiciary, executive and legislature should be respected and upheld by all those presiding over the three organs.
Each organ of the state was duty bound not to disturb the separation of powers as the written constitution limits the scope for discretion, the chief justice said.
Calling for restraint in legislative overreach, he said: "We are not afraid of being accountable."
Bur while making judges accountable, judicial independence should not be lost.
He called for detailed studies and wide-ranging consultation, including with judicial luminaries, before any tinkering was done with the constitution.
"Please don`t suffocate justice," Kapadia said, describing justice as the oxygen of democracy.
He said transparency and accountability of judicial functioning had to be compatible with judicial independence.
In a counsel to judges of the apex and high courts that they should avoid judicial over-reach, Kapadia said the rights of institutions also needed to be respected.
He told the judges that "legality and legitimacy" go together and if there was any encroachment into the sphere of other organs of the state, then the "legitimacy of the judicial review will be obliterated".
Asking the judges to be more careful while writing judgments, Kapadia said they should keep the text of the constitution and the constitutional assembly debates in mind.
Earlier, Law Minister Salman Khurshid noted the role played by the apex court in meeting the challenges of equity and conflicting claims.
Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati urged people not to lower themselves in their own estimation.
Supreme Court Bar Association president Pravin Parikh read out a message from President Pranab Mukharjee who pressed the need to make people aware of their rights and duties towards their motherland.