Delhi District Court Judge Ajay Pandey's open endorsement of the Jan Lokpal Bill before a large number of supporters of social activist Anna Hazare at Ramlila Maidan here on Wednesday has evoked a mixed reaction from the legal fraternity.
According to Supreme Court advocate Meenakshi Lekhi, a judge cannot be penalised by the court for supporting the Bill because he has expressed his opinion as an individual.
“As an individual you can choose any platform to express your view. Mr. Pandey has articulated his opinion on the proposed Bill as an individual not as a judge. There is no misconduct in that. At the same time, a person well versed in law should study the legal implications of this act.”
The motive may be correct as corruption is a big issue in the country. “All judges are against corruption but since Mr. Pandey has already expressed his opinion on this issue, if any case related to Anna Hazare comes before him then he must transfer it to another court.”
Advocate Rebecca John said as a Constitutional functionary, Mr. Pandey should have steered clear from expressing his views on the Jan Lokpal Bill. “Mr. Pandey should have stayed out of the agitation. He abandoned his Constitutional duty while airing his views.”
Though a number of retired judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court have expressed their opinion on the Jan Lokpal Bill, the advocate pointed out that they can do so because they have retired from their posts.
“As long as you are a serving judge, you cannot express your view on such a subject. Santosh Hegde, who is a retired judge, can express his opinion.”
Advocate Aman Lekhi said the High Court needs to take action against the judge as “he has set a bad precedent”. “Anna Hazare and his team are not the only one who want to eradicate corruption…But a judge can express his opinion in the courtroom and not in a rally. It is totally unacceptable and is a case of impropriety.”