New Delhi: Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur has cracked the whip on errant and deviant judges by ordering a mass transfer of high court judges across the country. Earlier, such mass transfers were effected during the tenure of S.H. Kapadia as CJI.
The SC collegium headed by the CJI, at its meeting on February 11, took the drastic step with a view to stop alleged corruption in the judiciary. Though there is some resentment, sources said this step is for the improvement of the judiciary. Though the number of judges being transferred is not known, sources confirmed that a large number of judges are being shifted either on complaints of alleged corruption and deviant behaviour, inefficiency, for administrative exigency and since either’s daughter or son is also practising in the same high court. Sources said this is the first round and there will be another round of transfers shortly.
This list includes Justices R. Sudhakar and C.S. Karnan of the Madras HC.
While Justice Sudhakar is being sent to Jammu and Kashmir on administrative reasons, Justice Karnan is being shifted to the Calcutta high court based on complaints from the Chief Justice. A couple of judges are being transferred from the high courts of Madras, Karnataka, Delhi, AP and Allahabad and some other high courts. Sources said that after the receipt of the list from the Supreme Court, the law ministry will process the transfers which are expected to materialise in a fortnight.
At present, there is no legal mechanism for dealing with complaints against judges, who are governed by the “Restatement of Values of Judicial Life”, adopted by the judiciary as a code of conduct without any statutory sanction. The Judges (Inquiry) Act contemplates only impeachment and there is no other form of punishment for errand judges.
The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, providing for a mechanism to deal with complaints against judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court, could not be passed by Parliament. As a result, any complaint against judges has to be dealt with only by the Supreme Court collegium.