Bill for probe panel against errant judges cleared (Lead)

October 8th, 2008 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) The cabinet Wednesday paved the way for enacting a law for setting up a panel to be headed by the chief justice of India to probe allegations of corruption and misconduct against judges of higher judiciary.For establishment of the panel, to be known as the National Judicial Council, the cabinet decided to introduce the Judges Inquiry (Amendment) Bill, 2008, in parliament after withdrawing the previous bill of 2006 from the Lok Sabha, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Chidambaram said the bill would incorporate some of the recommendations of the parliament panel headed by Rajya Sabha member S. Natchiappan, which had examined the Judges Inquiry Bill, 2006, introduced in the Lok Sabha on Dec 19, 2006.

He said the new bill will be introduced in two parts with the first part providing for retention of the law for impeachment of errant judges by parliament. The second part will provide for the formation of the NJC, which will probe the allegations of corruptions and misconduct against the judges of higher judiciary and recommend suitable actions against them.

“The new law, besides imparting greater transparency in the functioning of higher judiciary, will also enhance its prestige,” Chidambaram said.

The minister said the NJC would be an all-judges panel, which is vital for ensuring judicial independence.

The 2006 Judges Inquiry Bill had envisaged formation of an NJC with the chief justice of India as its chairperson, besides the two senior most judges of the apex court and two high court chief justices as its members.

The new bill will also repeal the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968, which provides for an in-house enquiry by an ad-hoc committee set up by the chief justice of India into the allegations of corruption against the judges of higher judiciary.

The bill to enact the law for establishing NJC will be introduced in the next session of parliament beginning Oct 17.

The cabinet decision to expedite the enactment of the law for formation of the NJC comes on the heels of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan’s recommendation to the prime minister to initiate the impeachment process and sack Calcutta High Court judge Soumitra Sen, found guilty of financial bungling by a judicial panel.

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