Does Indian Judiciary need a health checkup?

Does Indian Judiciary need a health checkup?

Sometime back the Supreme Court struck down an Act which amended the Constitution for the formation of an independent commission, called the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to replace the collegium system of appointment of judges. The Act had received the Presidential Assent. The reason to shoot down the Act was the presence of executive members in the NJAC which violated the independence of the judiciary. On the face of it, the Supreme Court’s response looks very justified. But few factions in the society are mulling over the thought of whether the judiciary wants reforms or not. Many have voiced their concerns over the fact that there needs to be reform in the judiciary but nothing seems to be getting done. On this backdrop it would be pertinent to discuss whether Indian Judiciary has remained strong and healthy enough throughout so many years.

Yes. It is not healthy and needs reforms –

1. The judicial system is no less corrupt than any other institution of the government. There have been many allegations of the judiciary misusing its official position for personal gain.

2. Also the legal system has no self-correcting mechanism. Judges can’t judge their colleagues objectively and in the unlikely event of any judge being found guilty, the impeachment process is complex and difficult.

3. The number of cases is piling with no end to it. Cases are not getting disposed off quickly. Many lawyers intentionally make use of legal loopholes to prolong the trials.

4. Many under-trials are languishing in the jails pending trials.

5. The cost of justice is rising too. The poor cannot afford to get involved in court cases.

6. The legal technicalities sometimes are baffling to the common man.

7. No reforms are taking place. Indian judiciary has a self-regulating mechanism. Thus it should be easy to undertake changes. But nothing seems to be done. With the recent striking down of the NJAC Act, reforms are looking distant.

8. Judges appoint other judges. This can lead to opaqueness in appointments. The collegium system is one such example which has attracted criticisms from many.

9. Some have even criticized the power of contempt of the court as a tool to suppress public criticism.

No, it is healthy and needs no reforms –

1. Since independence till now, the only institute which has been performing consistently is the Indian Judiciary. And that is the reason why the eyes of the people always look with awe and respect towards it.

2. There have been allegations of corruption against personnel of the judiciary, but no government has ever initiated any major reforms for the lower class of employees in the judiciary. This shows that whatever concerns all have are regarding higher judiciary and that too in the appointments of the judges.

3. In case of appointments of judges, inclusion of executive opens the process to executive influence and possible avenues of corruption. Apart from violating the independence of judiciary there are chances of pressure from the government and other quarters which were till now barred from interference into the judiciary.

4. Impeachment process has been made complex and difficult so as to preserve the independence of the judiciary. If it had not been complex, the executive and the legislature will have a field day and judiciary would become just another puppet in the hands of them.

5. In so many years since independence, only two incidences of impeachment have been noted and that too have not been successful. In the latest case, the judiciary to protect its reputation made the guilty judge to resign. This shows that the judiciary takes such matters seriously to protect the institution.

6. The courts are the ultimate dispenser of justice for the common man, barring the President who can reverse even the Supreme Court's decision. Such a great institution has to be respected and protected from slander and meaningless criticisms which we can generally see in politics. The power of contempt attempts to do so. It also keeps all in line and makes sure that its decisions are carried out. Till today not many major incidences have been noted of misuse of the power of contempt of court.

Looking at the above points, we can say that though the points have merit, there is no doubt that the judiciary has always been there for the people; for e.g. during the times of emergency, the PILs, crackdown on the authoritative attitude of the executive and legislature, etc. Indian judiciary and its independence have served the nation well. Though there are minor areas where reforms are necessary but no step should be taken to encroach on its independence.
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  • RE: Does Indian Judiciary need a health checkup? -M.D. NAVEENA CHANDRAN (06/12/17)

  • It is very strange that a judge who, many a time, ordered the cops to capture absconders in court cases, is himself now absconding in his own case. Taking into consideration the miserable situation wherein, a high court Chief justice sentences a supreme court Chief Justice to six years rigorous imprisonment and in return, the supreme court chief justice sentences the chief justice of the High Court to six months imprisonment for contempt of court. Never in the history of Indian judiciary, such a situation as arisen and it is in the present context whether the Indian Judiciary needs a health checkup or not has become the subject matter of discussion and the answer is simply, yes.

    It was the Supreme Court which wanted a medical report on the mental stability of Justice Karnan and before sending him for such a medical checkup or even before receiving his medical report, the supreme court sentenced Justice Karnan to six months imprisonment. If one assumes that if Justice Karnan were still in service, as a retaliation, he also could done the same thing calling for a medical report on all judges including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. In such a situation, the people would be under a dilemma, pondering who actually deserves a clean certificate on his mental stability and how could the Indian Judiciary function well with such an unstable legal fraternity? And what about all the judgments delivered so far, presumably with an unstable mind of a Chief Justice as Karnan?

    Even if Justice Karnan is caught, how would he be sent to the prison? As a sitting Chief Justice or as a Retired Chief Justice, since he is no more in service? Can a retired Chief Justice or a pensioner be sent to prison for his mistakes committed during the period while he was in service, knowingly or unknowingly, with a stable or unstable mind after retirement ? The best place for Justice Karnan to be sent is a mental asylum and not the prison. After all, Justice Karnan also belongs to the legal fraternity. Let's hope that he would recoup from the present predicament.
  • RE: Does Indian Judiciary need a health checkup? -Deepa Kaushik (11/26/15)
  • Indian judiciary does not only mean the selection of judges, but it includes every process from selection and employment of staff upto providing justice to those approaching the court. Due to the latest discussions on NJAC, a change from the prevailing collegium system, the topic of Indian judicial system has come to the limelight.

    Corruption has entered every sphere and so is the judicial system of our country. Corrupt officials and corrupt workers are placed from the ground level staff to the topmost positions. Their post determines the level of corruption and malfunctioning of the system. Just a reformation in the procedure of selection of judges is not going to solve the problem.

    The lawyers, court staff, judges and various other assissting co-workers are involved into the judicial set-up. A single corrupt inmdividual amongst these can cause a big trauma to the society in some or the other way. They definitely require to be uprooted to cleanse the system.

    Such health check-ups are required in every field which could unweed the corruption out of the sectors. The judiciary system is no different. It is the major support to the citizens of the country. Since it has supreme power being the independent judicial set-up, the health check-up should fasten its pace in this judicial sector. The law and order situation in the country can improve only if the complete judicial set-up is refined and not just the selection of judges.