Sunday, February 19, 2017

Judiciary-Heal thyself while reforming all and sundry

As someone who has earlier studied law(during professional courses in accountancy and company secretaryship), I've been avidly following the practice of law. While judicial activism is a welcome trend to fill the institutional void in the executive and legislative branches, it should now extend to fill the judiciary and legal professional itself. For example, below points

  1. Refusal of Supreme Court to disclose information on judges's financial status etc under the Right to Information Act-do note this decision cannot be litigated as the Supreme Court is itself the final legal arbiter in India
  2. Hearing celebrity/high profile cases out of turn while allowing other cases to languish for a long time. There needs a transparent mechanism to decide out of turn vs regular cases, else the spectre of speedy justice for some will exist.
  3. Judicial Appointments-The existing collegium mechanism has its documented faults in preventing nepotism etc. The Modi government should be lauded for sticking to its guns in this regard
  4. Blatantly favouring the legal professional: Whether it is about levy of service tax on advocates, restricting tax tribunal hearings only to legal professionals, entry of foreign law firms in India, asking censorship cuts in already approved Movie Jolly LLB 2 which lampoons the legal profession, these decisions favour the legal profession in India, at the cost of other stakeholders
  5. Non transparent court ordered appointments: In the case of BCCI Committee of Affairs, the Supreme Court ordered appointments of 4 professionals who would be remunerated and not on a honorary basis. This appointment was not competitive or application based, unlike say a normal UPSC appointment. 
  6. Caustic remarks during proceedings/inability to tolerate critiques: While judges routinely pass strictures during hearings like Sahara case, BCCI, if there is critiques by even retired judges,like M Katju the courts take offence and initiate contempt proceedings. Is this fair?
  7. Revision of allowances/pensions: The Courts award merit increases to themselves-to be fair this is done by the legislature also. But is this fair?
The following points if fixed, would go a long way for judges to be perceived truly as neutral arbiter

No comments: