India Intelligence Report
 

Corruption in Judiciary Worries PM

 

Inaugurating the Conference of Chief Ministers and Chief Justices, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, “Corruption is a burning issue in all spheres of public life.” He called upon the Judiciary, probably the least corrupt section of the Indian democracy, to be on guard as “instances of corruption have begun to surface in our judicial system too.” He called on the “higher judiciary” to “address this challenge and show the way forward to the rest of the system” He emphasized that the judiciary is “committed to continue cleansing itself by coming down with a heavy hand on unscrupulous elements that may exist within and also by removing dead wood.” He insisted that India has adopted a policy of “zero tolerance” on corrupt judges. So far, the Supreme Court (SC) has seen only one case of corruption allegation which lower courts even at the High Court level has seen many. Most recently, Justice Banerjee of the West Bengal High Court has been found guilty of unduly influencing the political system to get him land, house, and other ancillary benefits. Banerjee had also influenced politicians to get a lower court order overturned so he can continue to live in the free house provided by the state. West Bengal, which has been ruled by the Communists for that last 30 years, has one of the highest levels of corruption including significant electoral fraud. The collusion of politicians and administration is reportedly high and this is the first instance of judiciary being part of the corruption racket. The Parliament is now discussing a new law that would make the judiciary accountable. In the last few months, the Parliament, under the leadership of Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, and the Judiciary have been at odds over several Constitutional issues leading to bitter debate and discussion on media. There is increasing irritation in the Legislative Branch that “judicial activism” is curbing the functioning style and form of the Government. The proposed Legislation is seen by some as a move by the Legislative to gain dominance over the Judiciary. It is ironic that the Parliament with elected politicians with criminal and espionage histories and pending cases should create a law that should make the Judiciary accountable.

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