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Friday, June 17, 2011

Judges are humans too...

Three years ago the Law Minister said, 'have a heart', to a lady reporter about why Judges needed to take their spouses on official foreign visits and went on to say, 'you are a women, you should understand!' (my blog entry on that here).Few months ago the entire nation heard Niraa Radia that a SC judge has been 'taken care of'. Two days back a Judge of the Kerala High Court said, that the former CJI was 'approachable', whatever that meant. 

Now, it transpires that the Government was planning to gag the Honourables in its own quirky way. The news item (link) on the foreign visit by the Judges has been ridiculed by the Delhi HC. I haven't read the guideline itself and am unable to comment. The two questions that I have in relation to this news are:

1. What if the Government sends the Judges on 'sponsored trips' that are hosted in other countries by 'private individuals/interests' (that is such a round about way to avoid the word, 'corporate'!), can the Judge say 'no' to the government?  - such a programme was organized for the Judges about 8 years ago to USA, to understand the complexities of the new bio-tech related cases that may come up in India. We all know who 'teaches' bio-tech in USA with its revolving door policy.

2. What will prevent the Judge from receiving such a largesse in India itself? - after all it is a free country. So, what measure is being proposed by the government to ensure that the Judge is not invaded by foreign nationals or for that matter, Indians, with their 'hospitality'! We had amongst other things, the Tihar Raja calling a sitting Judge of Chennai HC on his phone for a favour. The Judge was bold enough to state it in the open court the next day, but, what is the protection the 'competent authority' in the government gives the Honourable Judges against such invasion?

I do think that the Judges should voluntarily accept these regulations and indeed turn it back on the bureaucracy and politicians. As equally powerful pillars of Democracy, they stand to be influenced by the global corporate establishment as much as the Judiciary, if not more.  

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