Fresh judicial transparency bill on cards

Proposed legislation will have provision for high court judges to declare assets

Fresh judicial transparency bill on cards


Veerappa Moily: We will form a view after taking political parties into confidence

Union Law and Justice Minister M Veerappa Moily on Thursday said in the changed circumstances following the decision of the Supreme Court judges to disclose their assets for public scrutiny, the UPA government would not seek to introduce  an amended version of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill in Parliament. The government had recently made an attempt to introduce that bill in the Rajya Sabha but retreated in the wake of widespread opposition from the members.
In the new circumstances, the government would work on a new Judges (Inquiry) Bill and introduce it during the winter session of Parliament, the minister told Deccan Herald. Among others, the proposed law would seek to have a provision for high court judges to declare their assets.

“We will form a view after taking political parties into confidence so that their views are also reflected in the proposed Judges (Inquiry) Bill,’’ said Moily. Asked whether there would be a law for high court judges, he said the new Judges (Inquiry) Bill will take care of the transparency concerning members of higher judiciary.

The proposed Judges (Inquiry) Bill would lay down procedures to take action against members of the higher judiciary for misconduct.

This would be a significant progressive step over the existing Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, which deals only with impeachment procedures against the judges. It does not deal with other cases of complaints against judges.

The proposed legislation would be in line with the UPA government’s commitment to usher in judicial reforms and introduce transparency in the judiciary at all levels. It would be an entirely new Bill and not a copy of the old one. “We are taking care to include clauses that would ensure more accountability of judges of the Supreme Court as well as the High Courts apart from every aspect of good governance within the judiciary”, the minister said.

The consensus decision of the apex court judges on Wednesday to disclose their assets and liabilities came as a relief to the government which had come under attack from the opposition and coalition allies alike over the aborted Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill as it shied away from seeking public disclosure of the judges’ assets.

The opposition BJP and Left parties had contended that the aborted bill would promote a “class of citizens” which would violate the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

‘’It (the consensus decision of the apex court judges) is good. They (judges) hold a sensitive post. They are not against declaration of their assets, but they were apprehensive about the misuse of the information (disclosed),’’ Moily said.

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