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CJAR starts online petition for transparent and accountable functioning of the judiciary

Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reform (CJAR) has started a petition on Change.org with a joint statement from  Justice A. P. Shah(Former Chairman, Law Commission of India and CJ, Delhi HC), Justice G. S. Singhvi (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India), Wajahat Habibullah (former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities and the first Chief Information Commissioner of India), Aruna Roy (Political and Social Activist )and Shailesh Gandhi (former Central Information Commissioner) for  a robust and credible system for investigating complaints against judges and holding them accountable for their misconduct and corruption must be put in place.

According to the petition, “The demand and concern for transparent and accountable functioning of the judiciary is not just that of CJAR but of all Indians.”

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices R. K. Agrawal, Arun Mishra and A. M. Khanwilkar had earlier dismissed the Writ Petition filed by the Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and imposed costs of Rs.25 lakhs on the Petitioner. The Court held that the Petition was a gross abuse of the process of the court and ordered the petitioners to deposit the said amount as costs before the registry of the court within six weeks whereafter the amount will be transferred to the Supreme Court Bar Association Advocates’ Welfare Fund.

The petition by CJAR says,

“The approach of the Supreme Court in the matter has been deeply concerning. Rather than taking steps to investigate the matter and uphold citizens trust in the judiciary, the focus of the court appears to be to dismiss any form of questioning in matters of alleged wrong doing and corruption. The court’s observations that the petition is “wholly frivolous…contemptuous, unwarranted, aims at scandalizing the highest judicial system of the country,” is evidence of this misplaced priority. The petitioners had a reasonable basis in terms of the facts recorded in FIR registered regarding the alleged conspiracy to pay bribes to secure favourable judgments.

 

We hold the judiciary in the highest regard but are constrained to state that the approach of the Supreme Court in this matter has left us extremely disappointed. There is a pressing need for the judiciary to play its role as the guardian of peoples’ constitutional rights against executive and legislative excesses.”

The petition concludes with the following statement,

“We believe that the people of this country are the real stakeholders in the institution of the Judiciary and in the judicial system and therefore, must come together to protect this important pillar of democracy. By this statement we ourselves join in this critical campaign and support CJAR to carry forward its work.”

CJAR’s writ petition before the Supreme Court had sought the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under a retired Chief Justice of India to investigate the allegations against sitting judges in the medical college bribery cases. They argued that an investigation by a government controlled agency like the CBI into a case concerning the Judges of the Supreme Court could seriously compromise the independence of the judiciary. As the matter of the medical college was being heard by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, CJAR had requested that the petition not be heard by the CJI but by the 5 senior most judges, excluding the CJI. This would be also be in keeping with the fundamental principle that no one should be a judge in their own case. However, the CJI dealt with the petition on the administrative and the judicial side.

You can view and sign the petition here.

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