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Cabinet approves Judicial Standards, Accountability Bill with minor amendments

Higher judges would now be made accountable to the public for alleged acts of misconduct and corruption as the long-awaited Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill 2010 wins Cabinet approval as an Oversight Committee is being set up.

The high-level committee will be headed by a former Chief Justice of India and will consist of four other members including the Attorney General, a Supreme Court Judge, a former Chief Justice of a high court and an eminent personality nominated by the President of India.

This committee that will be responsible for formulating regulatory guidelines for monitoring the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and shall also be empowered to place restrictions on those affiliated to public work.

The Hindu reported:

"In the case of a complaint against a Supreme Court Judge, the scrutiny panel will consist of a former Chief Justice of India and two sitting Supreme Court judges, and in the case of a complaint against a High Court judge, the panel will have a former Chief Justice of the High Court and two of its sitting judges. The members of the Supreme Court panel will be nominated by the Chief Justice of India, and that of the High Court panels by the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned."

The bill is going to replace the Judges (Inquiry) Act 1968 while there are expectations that it’ll help rid the judiciary of the incidents of corruption which have been reported recently.

It will bestow the committee with the power to remove judges facing grave charges of misconduct and provides for some other amongst those to be let off with mild warning.

In addition to above, the bill also proposes to make explicit provisions for declaration of assets and liabilities of the judges.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told media that the the bill had been passed with some amendments, adding: "The enactment of the bill will address the growing concerns regarding the need to ensure greater accountability of the higher judiciary by bringing in more transparency and would further strengthen the credibility and independence of the judiciary."

A copy of the amended bill was not available to Legally India at the time of going to press – please do let us know if you get your hands on one.

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