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iasparliament
April 02, 2018
4 months
279
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A fearless judge is the bedrock of an independent judiciary. In this context, do you agree with the view that there should be some safeguards before a motion to impeach a judge is admitted in Parliament?

Refer – The Hindu

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IAS Parliament 3 months

KEY POINTS

Procedure of removal

·        A judge can be removed on the ground of “proved misbehaviour or incapacity”.

·        Neither misbehaviour nor incapacity are defined, but would include any criminal activity or other judicial impropriety.

1)     An impeachment motion can only be admitted if it has the required levels of support: 100 MPs in Lok Sabha or 50 MPs in Rajya Sabha.

2)     If the motion is admitted, a 3-member committee made up of a SC judge, the CJ of any High Court, and a ‘distinguished jurist’ nominated by the Speaker/Vice-President is set up to investigate the allegations.

3)     Once the committee prepares its report, this has to be submitted to the Speaker/Vice-President, who then also shares it with the other House.

4)     Both Houses of Parliament then need to pass an ‘address to the President’ asking for the judge to be removed. To succeed, this needs to be passed by a 2/3rd majority of the MPs present in each house during the vote, and must also exceed the 50 percent mark in each House.

5)     If both addresses succeed, then the President can remove the judge from his position by Presidential Order.

·        Significantly, no judge of the higher judiciary has ever been removed till now by means of such a parliamentary proceeding.

Why Safeguard is necessary?

·        In the discharge of his official duty, a judge is obliged to decide on a variety of matters concerning the government and the political class.

·        A fearless judge is the bedrock of an independent judiciary, as much as an independent judiciary itself is the foundation on which the rule of law rests.

·        Fixity of tenure and removal only by impeachment, no doubt, are guarantees for independence.

·        But in a perception-driven world, the incalculable damage that even a mere admission of an impeachment motion can cause, and the consequential loss of reputation, that can never be redeemed, needs to be primarily addressed.

·        Moreover, till the proceedings conclude, the functioning of the judge concerned comes under a cloud and even an ultimate exoneration cannot give him or her back the enormous loss of honour.

·        This is quite apart from the incalculable damage the process itself causes to the institution of the judiciary.

·        While a corrupt judge should be impeached without doubt, it must be ensured that the large body of independent judges is protected and they are not inhibited and shackled while going about their work with any possible threat of an impeachment looming large.

·        In the eyes of the international community, the executive government also will be shown in a bad light if the judiciary in the country is not independent and strong. Business will not be forthcoming. Tourism will suffer.

·        There will be fear and insecurity. The rule of law will be a far cry. All this will deliver a serious blow to the economy.

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