Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: K. G. Balakrishnan

Fast for Lokpal Bill

Anna Hazare is on an indefinite fast for Jan Lokpal Bill. This bill is different from the Lokpal Bill the government has in mind. The government is not ready to meet representatives of activists to reconcile the two bills.

Lokpal Bill is a small step in fighting corruption at the top. The bill has made occasional appears over the last 42 years. Many people have come forward in support of Anna Hazare and there are indefinite fasts in various cities. In California, Indians marched supporting the fast against corruption. Candle light vigil has taken place.

The activists do not want Sharad Pawar, Kapil Sibal and Veerappa Moily in the drafting committee of Lokpal Bill. They do not want politicians to join their movement. Om Prakash Chautala and Uma Bharti had to go back. The activists want the committee to have five ministers and five activists. Swami Agnivesh wants a new constitution for India. Arvind Kejriwal called the people to come to Jantar Mantar and make it the Tahrir Square of India. The movement is known as crusade against corruption.

Permission of Speaker or Chairman should not be a requirement for prosecution of MPs. Permission of President should not be a requirement for prosecution of Prime Minister and other ministers.

Sometimes the motives of people who fight against corruption are questioned. Indian Justice Party lead Udit Raj has said that actions against K. G. Balakrishnan and Dinakaran are because they are Dalits. He did not say the two judges were not corrupt. He said “There were serious complaints against former CJIs A. S. Anand and Y. K. Sabharwal too. In Sabhalwal’s case, there was documentary too… But no action was taken against them. In the case of Balakrishnan and Dinakaran, both have been dubbed guilty without any clinching evidence.” Udit Raj can try to prosecute A. S. Anand and Y. K. Sabharwal.

The judicial system we inherited from the British has failed us. The system’s foundation is wrong. It says. No innocent person shall be punished even though hundred criminals escape. Hundred criminals escaping is not justice. Even one criminal escaping is not justice. The system’s foundation should be, No innocent person shall be punished and no criminal shall escape.

Punishment for corruption should be proportionate to the amount. If the punishment for corruption involving 100 rupees is imprisonment for a day, then for 10,000 rupees it should be 100 days, for 1,00,00,000 rupees it should be 1,00,000 days and so on. The punishment period should not have parole or remission. Time spent in hospital should not be considered and period of imprisonment should be extended accordingly. If any loss is caused to the country the loss should be recovered from the corrupt person and that is separate from the punishment for corruption. For example, if a man has a 20 crore rupees bribe and caused 1,000 crore rupees loss he should be punished for the bribe and loss should be recovered from him and if after selling his property if the amount falls short there should be additional punishment. If the act of corruption has resulted in the death of a person, the corrupt person should he hanged.

Removing Corrupt Judges

Judicial corruption is the worst corruption. Judges are the ultimate hope for justice and when they are corrupt justice is denied.

Judges enjoy constitutional protection so they may do their job fearlessly. The procedure for removal of corrupt judges of Supreme Court or High Court is long and difficult. A motion has to be moved in Lok Sabha, signed by 100 members, or in Rajya Sabha, signed by 50 members. When the motion is admitted the speaker of chairman appoints a committee of three members. When the committee submits report recommending the removal of the judge the motion is put to vote and must be passed by two-thirds majority in both houses. The voting is presented to the president of India and the president removes the judge.

To simplify the procedure the law minister introduced the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill in November 2010. A person can make a complaint against any judge which will go to a committee of judges for scrutiny. The committee can dismiss the complaint if it finds it frivolous or send it to National (Judicial) Oversights Committee which may give a warning to the judge or recommend his removal.

Some have opposed the bill saying good judges far outnumber the bad and it is better to catch the bad eggs when they retire. That argument is not valid. One rotten egg in a basket spreads rottenness to other eggs. Catching judges after they have retired is locking the stable after horses have bolted. A corrupt judge has to be removed soon after his/her corruption is known. He or she should not be allowed to hold office for years after that.

Another argument is that the bill will make judges more populist and less fearless and in these times we need fearless judges. This argument overlooks the fact that we need fearless judges at all times. Our times are not much different from other times. There were corrupt judges at the time of Daniel, that was in 7th-6th century BC. Indira Gandhi spoke of committed judiciary and judges who did not deliver judgments according to her wishes were not promoted. During Emergency, Supreme Court judges except one effectively said the government can get away with murder when they did not uphold the right to life and liberty.

To say that with the aid of PIL judges can deal effectively with corrupt judges is to ignore the fact that some judges got appointed to the Supreme Court in spite of the president making known to the collegium of judges the corruption of those judges.

To say that if a sitting judge is found to be corrupt then with the permission of the CJI a criminal prosecution can be launched is to ignore the fact that CJI K. G. Balakrishnan refused permission to prosecute Nirmal Yadav. CBI wanted to close the case. The court told CBI to ask permission again. K. G. Balakrishnan retired and S. H. Kapadia became CJI and he gave permission. Then the Government of India sat on permission and gave it only when Nirmal Yadav was about to retire.

The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill may be made more simple. The scrutiny committee for scrutiny of complaints about Supreme Court judges may have MPs as members and the scrutiny committee for scrutiny of complaints about High Court judges may have MLAs as members. National (Judicial) Oversights Committee may have MPs as members.

Corrupt Chief Justices of India

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