Almost from the time of its inception, contributors to this blog have focused on the issue of corruption in the higher judiciary at regular intervals. This post from three years ago seems particularly ironic now, given its focus on the claim of the erstwhile Chief Justice of India, YK Sabharwal that corruption in the higher judiciary was “very, very minimal.”
Today’s papers carry items which are a sobering reminder of just how off the mark this statement was when it was made back in 2005, and how things may have worsened (or simply have become more amenable to public attention) since. Two days ago, on Sep 08, the CJI recommended that Justice S. Sen, a sitting judge of the High Court of Calcutta be impeached (Here is the link to the story in the Indian Express). Today’s issue of the Express features a column by TR Andhyarujina that provides some historical and legal context.
It appears that this is only the tip of the iceberg. This story from today’s issue of The Telegraph details how CJI Balakrishnan has allowed the CBI to question two judges of the High Court of Punjab on corruption related charges that have been hogging the headlines for some time now. The closing lines of the item remind us that the CJI is still to act on the Ghaziabad scam which has also been in the limelight.
While CJI Balakrishnan is to be lauded for taking positive action on these cases, which will no doubt be closely followed by the media, it remains to be seen if the judiciary will take further and stricter measures internally to address what critics have long been complaining is a serious crisis of great magnitude within the judiciary.
In the coming weeks, as the impeachment motion against Justice Soumitra Sen proceeds, his individual actions will come under close scrutiny. One hopes that the debate will also extend to the institution of the judiciary more generally. This will start a long-delayed conversation on an ailment in a stellar national institution that must be addressed urgently.