Anagh Sengupta & Shoumendu Mukherji writes about the timely records of Judicial Accountability in consideration with Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 and emerging global trends.
This paper seeks to analyse the concept of judicial accountability from multiple perspectives. Firstly, the authors have delved into the need for judicial accountability in a country like India. In this context, they have considered the trends emerging out of countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and Sweden and have further assessed other international standards. The authors, by contemplating the background of the events leading to the formulation of the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, have given their opinions as to whether at all a watchdog is necessary for the judiciary, and if so, how stringent should such a mechanism be. Secondly, the authors have focused on the Bill as a whole, looking at it from a plethora of angles as well as circumstantially. The paper presents an insightful review of the bill provisions and attempts to evaluate the most pertinent issues at hand, with reference to a periodic window spanning the last two decades. The authors have been intrigued by the bill’s prospective impugnability liable to be affecting the Constitutional principle of separation of powers, blinding the fine line between independence and accountability, ceasing the unbiased nature of the proposed review commissions by having the Attorney General and other non-judicial members on board. At the same time, the authors have also commended the efforts of the framers of having imposed minor reformatory measures by justifying the same in juxtaposition with foreign legal systems and have further applauded the steps taken towards empowering citizens towards filing complaints against ‘dishonourable judges’. Thirdly, the authors look into the diagonally opposite aspects of judicial accountability and independence of the judiciary, trying to decide whether either of them curtails the efficiency of the other. The most important question that has been considered here is whether judicial accountability makes inroads into the concept of independence of the judiciary, which is a part of the basic structure of the Indian constitution. Finally, the paper concludes with a postulated introspection into the concept of judicial accountability, its entry into the Indian scene and the prospective effect it might have on the constitutional provision of independence of the judiciary, highlighting the viability of such a bill or legislation keeping all the stated factors in mind.