Judicial Accountability Bill to introduce reliability in impeachment of judges

New Judicial Accountability Bill 2012, would help in curbing corruption cases against judiciary and lead to a logical conclusion of all impeachment proceedings.

Law Minister Salman Khurshid Friday said the Judicial Accountability Bill (JAB) would provide that once impeachment proceedings are initiated against an errant judge, they are taken to their logical conclusion.

Speaking to reporters, Khurshid said: “There is something like this in the Judges Accountability Bill. It is a little sophisticated. Impeachment proceeding should be taken to its logical conclusion is provided for in it.”

This provision in the JAB assumes significance after Justice Soumitra Sen and Justice P.D. Dinakaran frustrated their impeachment by resigning mid-way.

To a query, Khurshid said nominated Rajya Sabha member H.K. Dua had given notice for the bill to amend the constitution by which a judge facing impeachment proceedings could not abort it by resigning.

Under the existing provision of the constitution, resignation by a judge becomes effective the moment it is submitted.

Dua’s proposed constitutional amendment makes the resignation of a judge subject to its acceptance by the president.

Khurshid said the government wanted to affect a constitutional amendment to provide for Judges Appointment Commission (JAC) to replace the existing system of appointing the judges by a collegium of five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.

The collegium system that was put in place by a judgment of the apex court and could be put to rest by seeking its reviewing but government is taking the route of amending the constitution.

“The government feels that it should be done through a constitutional amendment,” the minister said.

The broad-based JAC would include judges, chief ministers (in case of appointment to high courts) and other eminent people.

The JAC, Khurshid said, would be a permanent institution independent of the government and with its secretariat.

Pointing to constitutional amendment, he said that “how it is possible, it is being looked into. Constitutional amendment is required.”

Khurshid said the standoff between human resource development ministry and the Bar Council of India had been resolved with the bar retaining the power of the controlling the law degrees that paved the way for advocates to practice in the court.

Under the settlement, the ministry would have its hold over degrees concerning law and other disciplines of studies including maths, physics, environment and health.

These studies would come under the umbrella of education regulator as envisaged by the ministry.