The Judges Bill

August 5, 2009 at 3:28 am Leave a comment

The Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill one would have thought will be open and available to the public for scrutiny .This is necessary to establish the judiciary as an example for justice. How can the judiciary dispense justice when it is not just in its perception? When it hesitates to be accountable to the people and when it tries to find excuses that the judges will be put to harassment. This is strange logic coming from the highest body which needs to uphold equality and fairness to all. Can the judges be above the others in public accountability? It is not surprising that the UPA-2 buckled under pressure of the judiciary. How can the declaration of the assets of the judges become a classified document to be held within the well guarded chests of the Chief Justice? What purpose can it serve? It will only inbreed corruption. And why should the CJI submit his declaration of assets to the President? Again is this a top secret document.Then the very purpose of the Declaration is defeated. If the judges’ cite harassment-well harassment they should be prepared to face. Are not the common citizens who are ignorant of law and with no assets and political clout facing harassment in this country? If another reason is that they come from rich families and have already accrued assets and wealth–then there is no problem because those assets will be accounted for. That these are reasons cited by the judiciary to scuttle the declaration of assets Bill is illogical and indicate that they are avoiding accountability. It is a sad commentary on the government and the judiciary which conspired to defeat the very purpose of the Bill. What has the UPA-2 achieved? That it crafted a Bill with a clause which it knew was self defeating but can put the blame on the Opposition?
The il/logic that the assets of the judges must be kept as a safe guarded secret can be extended to the other arms of the government. The ministers can submit the declaration to the Chief Minister and the chief ministers can submit theirs to the Prime Minister and the MPs can submit theirs to the Speaker and the Speaker to the President of India. Well structured hierarchical chests or vaults can be installed to safe guard these declarations. According to political compulsions the CMs-the PM can use them. It will come handy for horse trading, for pressuring, for settling political scores and ‘cash for vote’ could get a new label. ‘Declaration for vote’. The Fourth estate must take up the issue and create public opinion to rectify this lacuna. And halt the erosion of confidence in the judiciary. Let us not pretend that there is no corruption in the judiciary. Justices cannot dispense justice if they are not just in their own public and private lives. They cannot be seen to be just if they want to be exempted from this declaration of their assets and liabilities because that is the real index to prove if their assets are disproportionate to their known sources of income? The Chief Justice and the Judges are creatures of the Constitution. They are not above the people-they serve the people and are public servants in the pay roll of the people. They need to declare their assets and these must be open to the people.
If they have nothing to hide, then why are they reluctant and cite illogical reasons to escape the declaration of Assets and liabilities Bill? It is the duty of the UPA-2 to delete clause 6 and reintroduce the Judges Bill if it is really serious to arrest corruption and to make the Judiciary accountable.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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