By Diksha Mishra:
Crooked judges must be rooted out. They should be socialist, secular and democratic by conviction, simple in life and straightforward in behavior. Judges correct the executive’s irregularities. When legislatures violate the Constitution by unconstitutional actions, courts quash such actions. But what shocks the public is the terrible catastrophe of judicial corruption, not only a mere case of taking bribes or one of deciding cases in favor of the wealthy class but also the sharp practices, tricky strategies and conspiracy have become the methodology of some in the judiciary. Although the provisions for the independence and accountability of the judiciary exist in India’s constitution, yet, corruption is increasingly apparent. Corruption has two manifestations, one is the corruption of judicial officers and the other is corruption in the broader justice system. In India, upper judiciary is relatively clean, though there are obviously exceptions.
Centre of Media Studies conducted a survey in the year 2005 and estimated the amount paid in bribes in 12 months to be around Rs 2,630 crores. Money was paid to the officials in the following proportions; 61% to lawyers, 29% to court officials, 5% to judges and 5% to middleman. Primary causes of corruption are delays in the disposal of cases, shortage of judges and the complex procedure, all of which is exacerbated by a prevalence of new laws. Consequently, favouritism, nepotism, casteism and other extraneous considerations spoil the selection. In the absence of a performance commission, corruption creeps into the process of judicial functionalism. Today, corruption, favouritism and influence are frequently attributed to judges.
Never in the 60 years of judicial history in India have such serious charges been made against judges as have been made in recent times. Nowadays, high courts are not free from moral violations. Extraordinary defences by judges in hiding their wealth or in promoting to the Bench their close relations were not so common earlier as they are now. The people of our Republic have become a victim. The robed brethen are accused of robbing wealth and yet no inquiry, no action by the Cabinet and no inquiry by Parliament takes place. The time has come for a democratic revolt against the judiciary and a demand for an appointment commission, a performance commission and an anti-corruption commission to keep a constant watch over judges and the respect they command. If judges fail in their responsibility, the rule of law and the rule of life would collapse and open the route to military rule and functional chaos.
Judges hold a sublime place in society. If they turn criminal, there is no compassion for them. Once corruption is detected and established, errant judges should be shown no mercy. The justice delivery system needs structural change. It needs fresh vision and innovative solutions. This cannot happen without the judiciary playing ball. Our hope that the judiciary itself will ensure transparency and accountability has not so far borne fruition.