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The recent edition of India Legal show debated the contentious issue of ‘corruption in Judiciary’. Taking the cue from the recent episode of the corruption in Judiciary in which it was found that Judges had taken bribes to issue bail to former UP Minister Gayatri Prajapati, the show asked the panellists whether the episode has re-kindled the debate of corruption of Judiciary.

The show was anchored by Rajshri Rai, Editor-in-Chief, APN. The show’s panellists included:

  • Justice RB Mishra, former acting Judge, Himachal Pradesh High Court
  • Justice Bhanwar Singh, former Judge, Allahabad High Court
  • Pallav Sisodia, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court
  • Rupinder Suri, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court and President, Supreme Court Bar Association
  • Justice AN Tripathi, former Judge, Allahabad High Court
  • Justice CB Pandey, former Judge and former Adviser to Governor

Starting the debate, Rai asked Justice Mishra does the recent corruption case in UP Judiciary involving former UP former minister Prajapati point in the direction that Judiciary needs more transparency than ever before?

Justice Mishra replied: “Judiciary along with legislature and executive and the press forms the four pillars of our country. The common public respects and trusts the Judiciary a lot and it is expected that when such cases of corruption surface, Judiciary must do justice in a transparent and trustworthy manner. In Article 235, the subordinate Judiciary is directly controlled by high court. Whenever such issues surface, the Judiciary makes sure to act on it swiftly and transparently.”

Justice Bhanwar Singh said that selection procedure of Judges should be reformed to tackle corruption of Judges in India. He said, “The disciplinary procedure is still going on and the punishment is not fixed yet, the allegations too might be proved but nothing can be said about the result yet. But where lies the fault? We have to think over our judicial appointments and the selection procedure. In our country, the selection at district level is done by the Public Service Commission, unlike in other countries, especially in America where an advocate is promoted as a Judge, after being put on a watch for two years by a committee of very senior Judges. They become Judges because of their knowledge and conduct and if the committee submits a positive report about the Judge only then is he elevated. But in our country district level Judges are not very knowledgeable and are appointed because they qualified through the exams conducted by the commission. Our judicial system needs to be improved right from the day of selection.”

While Justice Tripathy was of the view that only Judges should not be solely held accountable for the corruption in Judiciary as the Judiciary comprised of Judges, Lawyers and also court staff. Tripathy said: “Judicial system comprises of Judges, lawyers and court staff. There have been surveys which show that people have bribed lawyers, Judges and court staff to get their work done. So when we talk about the corruption of Judiciary the lawyers and the bar should also be kept in mind.”

He further added: “In Judiciary, at least in Allahabad High Court when the Judge is found guilty he is removed. It is clearly given in Judges Protection Act that if any judge has bonfidely given a judgment, no action would be taken against him but the judgments of lower courts are changed by appellate courts and judgments of appellate courts are changed by high courts and high court judgments are changed by Supreme Court. So a judge should be given this much room so that it can be decided if his decision is based on facts or not.”

Sisodia said: “This is an ecosystem in which Judges, advocates and litigants all are part of the larger society. Advocacy, even today, is a profession in which anyone can earn honestly and lead a life with self respect, but to call all the advocates thieves and dishonest or even upright would be an extreme statement. As the society is so is the Judiciary. Overall, Judiciary in itself is a very strong institution and the common man believes in the Judiciary more than any other institution. There are shining examples among lawyers who honestly pursue their practice, their professional and personal lives. By and large, Judiciary commands the confidence of the society.”

We present bytes/views of some of the panellists below:

Justice RB Mishra

Advocate Rupinder Suri

Justice Bhawar Singh

Justice CB Pandey

Justice AK Tripathy

—Compiled by Lily Paul

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