//Corruption: Set-backs in Indian Judiciary : Bala Nikit

Corruption: Set-backs in Indian Judiciary : Bala Nikit

When we are born, we inherent the right to life given to us by the gods but the cunning gods never grant us the right to a just and fair life. We try to overcome this defect by making certain social institutions like law, police, courts etc. All these are primarily made to inject the concept of justice in our life and in the society. The judiciary, the principal system present in all the societies, created to mainly to fight injustice, lawlessness and uphold what is just, right and fair. This system if personified as a human being tends to become corrupt and decay or like any normal human being is born with some imperfections.

These imperfections have off late become the setbacks of the judiciary. Some call the judiciary the temple of fairness and others call it the temple of loopholes. Judiciary is one pious system which has the inherent right to award capital punishment .It has the legal power to bring death to the law breakers; it can punish, isolate and take away the right to a pleasant social life.

The Set backs in Indian judiciary can be broadly be divided in the following ways:

1.      Corruption

2.      Extent of corruption

3.      Delay

4.      Other areas of concern


On November 12, 1999, in The Hindu, the front page news item read The Pioneer with the caption Judicially is fatally corrupt: Jethmalani. The report reads: In a strong indictment of the judiciary, Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani on Thursday said incompetence and corruption were corroding the countrys justice system and there was an urgent need to stem the rot. Delivering the keynote address at a two day workshop on New Models of accessible justice, organized by the National Commission for Women , Mr.Jethmalani said, the fatal combination of incompetence and corruption among police officers, prosecutors, witnesses and judges frustrated justice.   The former Chief Justice of Supreme Court Sam Piroj Bharucha had suggested that up to 20 per cent of judges in India were corrupt. Value of corruption in the Judiciary in the entire country is estimated at Rs. 2630/-Crores per annum. The Executive and the Legislature[1] are way behind even today. Speeches heard recently in Parliament indicate the concern of the people at large that all is not well with the judiciary. A few corrective measures are absolutely necessary to restore its health and make the institution more effective and accountable.

Without the Judiciary, there can be no rule of law. Unless its house is in order, it cannot exercise effective control over the Executive and the Legislature. Judicial corruption not only knocks judges off perceived pedestals, but also erodes the respect for law.[2] The people of India have a tremendous stake in the judiciary which is the only hope and last resort for all oppressed citizens.

The few instances of doubtful integrity of judges of High Courts in the North, the West and the South, widely reported and  and the ongoing prosecution of a former Judge of the Delhi High Court underline the need for a constitutional mechanism to weed out from the Judiciary members suspected of moral turpitude. The Prevention of Corruption Acts, 1947 and 1988, have not succeeded in checking corruption. A.P. Bharucha as Chief Justice of India frankly admitted that there was corruption in the ranks of the judiciary to some extent, mostly at the lower levels. The constitutional provision for impeachment of judges of High courts and of the Supreme Court is impracticable.

In C. Ravichandran Iyer vs Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee [3], the Supreme Court suggested an in house method which is non-transparent, time consuming and uncertain. The need for an alternative method of getting rid of judges of doubtful integrity is being felt acutely, it is possible to root out corruption in the Judiciary if a provision is made in the Constitution for premature retirement of public servants in public interest on the ground of doubtful integrity regardless of the length of service put in. The power to retire will have to be in the hands of the Judiciary itself to maintain its independence. In the case of the subordinate judiciary, this can be done by amending the service rules.

The view expressed by the Supreme Court in O.P. Bhandari vs Indian Tourism Development Corporation Limited[4] suggests that such a provision will be valid. Getting rid of a black sheep alone is not enough. The resultant vacancies must be filled up by the most deserving young men and women by amending the rules of recruitment at the entry point. Five national Universities are functioning in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kolkata and Jodhpur. In addition, there are a number of law schools with five-year degree courses attracting equally bright students. They are all imparting legal education of a high quality and their products are a class apart. To tone up the quality of justice at the level of subordinate judiciary, it is necessary to induct fresh law graduates who have done well in the five-year degree course as Civil Judges/Magistrates straightaway after giving intensive training for at least one or two years at the National judicial Academy, Bhopal. In addition, if a provision is made for fast track promotions at reasonable intervals, depending upon their overall performance, merit and integrity as in the case of All India Services.

 The prospect of re-employment after retirement will also act as incentive to serving judges and judicial officers to remain honest and discharge their duties efficiently. Retired judges need not then look forward to the Executive for discretionary assignments. This would reinforce the independence of the judiciary. No reform can be a success without the cooperation of the Bar. Shift system, helps distribution of work among more lawyers and to some extent break, the monopoly of a few practitioners in every court. It will give more satisfaction to the litigants as compared to any other alternative method of dispute resolution such as arbitration or Lok Adalat. There is no point in wasting the precious human resources in the shape of retired judges when the institution is about to collapse under the weight of pending cases.