Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bill on removal of judges to be introduced in Upper House today

Bill on removal of judges to be introduced in Upper House today

J. VENKATESAN

NEW DELHI, August 9, 2012

A private member's Bill seeking to amend the constitutional procedure on removal of Supreme Court and High Court judges for proven misconduct will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

The House has accepted a notice from veteran journalist and nominated member H.K. Dua for introduction of a Constitution Amendment Bill for making changes in Articles 124 and 217, which deal with the removal of judges.

Under the current procedure contemplated in Articles 124(2) and 217(1), if a judge submits his or her resignation to the President even while facing impeachment, the resignation will automatically come into effect and the impeachment proceedings will abruptly come to an end. Even if one of the Houses passes a resolution for the judge's removal, the other House will not take it up for discussion.

Mr. Dua told The Hindu that the object of the Bill was to ensure against a recurrence of what happened in the case of Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court. To a question, he said this aspect was not covered under the Judicial Accountability Bill.

The amendment Bill, if passed, will ensure that impeachment proceedings are brought to a logical end and also make acceptance of a judge's resignation by the President subject to Parliament's final decision. The Statement of Objects and Reasons says: "Impeachment proceedings could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha against Justice Soumitra Sen after the Rajya Sabha passed a resolution for his removal. Similarly the former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Sikkim High Courts, P. D. Dinakaran, resigned when a Committee of Inquiry constituted by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha under the Judges Inquiry Act was in the midst of examining the charges of corruption against him. Both judges thus escaped scrutiny of their conduct by Parliament and their likely removal by the President."

As a result, the Bill says, a huge amount of money and manpower spent on the Inquiry Committee (in the case of Justice Dinakaran) and valuable time devoted by the Rajya Sabha to discussing and passing a resolution for removal of Justice Sen went waste, and the two judges resigned and got their pecuniary benefits.

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