Remaining Above Suspicion

The judges of Supreme Court of India are going to declare their assets. The 1997 resolution required the judges to declare their assets to the Chief Justice but the declaration was supposed to be confidential.

Such declarations are meaningless if we look at it from the viewpoint of restoring faith in judiciary or creating a ‘clean’ image. The fact is that Justice Ramaswamy’s impeachment got politically managed in 1992, which delivered a big blow to the common man’s faith in judiciary. Those who followed the case then and read the details of his indiscretions in magazines felt angry and helpless at the turn of events.

Recently, Justice Soumitra Sen was held guilty of using court’s money for personal use. His impeachment is coming up. There is a widely held view about judiciary being corrupt, particularly at the junior level. The pressure building up on Judges to declare assets must be seen in this light.

Prashant Bhushan puts it well, “We also need to get rid of the Veeraswami judgement which restrains criminal investigation of judges without the prior written permission of the Chief Justice of India. This has tied the hands of investigating agencies from investigating judges of the higher judiciary. A Judicial Bureau of Investigation under an independent Judicial Complaints Commission should be set up to investigate complaints against judges.”

Judges are like Caesar’s wife, not being corrupt is not enough, they must always be above suspicion!