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Bill to deal with corruption charges against judiciary

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The Centre plans to bring a "state-of-the-art" legislation in the Winter session of Parliament to deal with complaints of corruption against judges and ensure accountability in higher judiciary.

The Judges Standards and Accountability Bill will cover the "entire judiciary" and would not be a "one sided affair". It would also provide appropriate protection to the judges so that "it will not be misused," says Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily.

He said the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968 would be repealed once the proposed bill is adopted. "The Judges Inquiry Bill deals only with the impeachment process of judges. We want to replace it with a comprehensive Judges Standards and Accountability Bill," he said in an interview to PTI.

The Government's plan assumes significance in the context of growing complaints of misconduct against judges of the higher judiciary and a feeling that redress system was not effective.

The "forward looking" bill has been drafted after taking into consideration "the best of lessons" learnt from all over the world, including United Kingdom, France and the US.

"It would have clarity on all issues, including those related to prior the appointment and after the appointment of a judge," Moily said, noting that it would cover the "entire judiciary."

He, however, said the judiciary "cannot be kept in the same room with politicians. They cannot hold a press conference like politicians if something is said about them," he explained.

Declining to reveal the salient features of the "most comprehensive legislation", Moily said that the much talked about bill would soon be circulated to various ministries before being brought to the Union Cabinet.

The bill would be a comprehensive legislation, including some of the provisions of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill, 2009 which the government could not table in Rajya Sabha recently following stiff resistance from opposition parties.

The Bill said that while members of higher judiciary would declare their assets, the same could not be made public, a provision that had triggered controversy.

The Law Minister did not rule out the possibility of the proposed bill being sent to the parliamentary Standing Committee after its introduction in Parliament.

Moily said all stake holders, including bar council and bar associations would be consulted. "We will also take the judiciary into full confidence in evolving the new system," he said.

First Published: Wed, November 11 2009. 10:50 IST