There is a need to bring transparency and institutional reforms in the judiciary: Former SC Bar Association President
The prestige of Indian Judiciary has taken a hit due to certain developments in Supreme Court. Legal experts say that it may have long-term ramifications on the judicial discipline in practice in the country. The practice adopted by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) of assigning individual cases to specific benches has indeed set a wrong precedent, they said. All is not well in the judiciary – has become the subject of debate in the country. This happened after four senior judges questioned CJI Dipak Misra's conduct last week especially over the allocation of cases.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, Dushyant Dave who has spoken against CJI Dipak Misra in the past few months. Dave was full of praise for the four judges for going public because he said that it has brought a focus on judiciary and its functioning. He said that an open debate on the issue will instil fear in the minds of those who indulge in wrong judicial practices. "Sunlight is the best antiseptic," said Dave, who added that judiciary needs to be made more fair and transparent.
IC: The crisis in Judiciary still continues as efforts to resolve the issue have failed. Thursday's meeting of senior judges too has failed to resolve the issue. Your comments.
Dushyant Dave: I don't see how this crisis can be resolved so easily because it is a deep-rooted problem. The Chief Justice of India will have to move an extra mile to resolve the issue. If he is unable to do so then I don't think that the crisis can be resolved. The four most senior judges have publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the Chief Justice's administrative skills.
IC: A roster of allotment of matters is central to the present SC crisis. CJI Dipak Misra on January 18 held a second meeting with the four judges in three days and discussed issues like allocation of sensitive cases but no immediate solution to the unprecedented crisis seems to be in sight. Why is CJI not resolving the judicial crisis?
He has been selectively cherry-picking the benches while assigning matters. Therefore, he will need a lot of courage to be transparent as his action may displease the Executive.
IC: In the past too, the Executive has interfered in the functioning of Judiciary. It has been going on from the times of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. How is it different from the earlier times and so why is there so much of fuss now?
I will agree with you that in past too, previous Chief Justices have accommodated political leaders across the spectrum. Special powers of the Chief Justice have been abused on numerous occasions to favour certain people in the last three decades.
IC: The prestige of Indian Judiciary has taken a hit due to these developments in Supreme Court. How can the confidence of people be restored in the top court then?
The role of Supreme Court is to ensure that justice delivered is fair and not given under any influence. Under separation of powers, the Supreme Court's duty is to keep the Executive under check rather than giving them a clean chit when they (Executive) are found guilty by walking an extra mile. Does Judge Loya case not call for an independent inquiry? Should Supreme Court not suo motu order for a seven senior most judges bench inquiry into the case? The High Courts in the past have suo motu ordered for probe in hundreds of matters. Judge Loya's death under mysterious circumstances has raised doubts and that's why people are demanding for an independent probe into the case.
IC: In the current judicial crisis, role of government has come under spotlight. If there is interference from the government in the judiciary, then it can be dangerous for democracy. Your comment.
It can be checked if there is a strong press. Judges, who have relations with political leaders, should not hear their cases. We believe that the cosy relations between the Executive and some members of the judiciary is causing problems. What is more troublesome is the appointment of law officers across the country. The law officers are being appointed by the government today on political considerations and these officers are acting as conduit between some of the judges and the Executive. Why should a law officer meet a judge?
IC: What are your views on corruption in Judiciary?
Corruption has been there in Judiciary for a long time. Many Chief Justices have spoken about it publicly. A majority of judges are honest with impeccable record. But a few bad people are bringing a bad name to the institution. There is a need to bring transparency and institutional reforms in the judiciary. Also, the need is to computerise the allocation of cases to benches. So we need judicial reforms and initiate the practice of a dialogue between the bar and the SC bench.
(Published on 22th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 04)