Comment

Acting against a judge

Chief Justice Dipak Misra  

The failed bid to initiate the impeachment process for the removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has also drawn attention to the Judges (Inquiry) Act, 1968. A procedural statute, it regulates “the procedure for the investigation and proof of the misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of the Supreme Court or of a High Court and for the presentation of an address by Parliament to the President and for matter, connected therewith”.

It covers the stages between the admission of the removal motion and the address of the motion in the Houses of the Parliament.

Section 3 describes the investigation into the charges by a committee of three members, who would be selected by the Chairperson or Speaker. Once formed, the committee will frame definite charges against the judge on the basis of which the investigation is proposed to be held.

Such charges, together with a statement of the grounds on which each such charge is based, shall be communicated to the judge. The judge will then be given a reasonable opportunity to present a written statement in his or her defence within the time specified by the committee. In case the judge denies that he or she is unable to discharge the duties of office “efficiently” due to any physical or mental incapacity, the committee will arrange for the medical examination of the judge by such medical board as may be appointed for the purpose by the Speaker or Chairman.

If the judge refuses to undergo the examination considered necessary by the medical board, the board shall submit a report to the committee stating the case. The committee may, on receipt of such report, presume that the judge suffers from physical or mental incapacity as alleged in the removal motion. The committee may, after considering the written statement of the judge and the medical report, if any, amend the charges. In such a case, the judge would be given a reasonable opportunity of presenting a fresh written statement of defence.

The government, if required by the Speaker or the Chairperson, can appoint an advocate to conduct the case against the judge. The judge must also be given opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. At the conclusion of the investigation, the committee is to submit a detailed report to the Speaker or Chairperson. If the report has a finding that the judge is guilty of any misbehaviour or suffers from an incapacity, then, the removal motion shall, together with the report of the committee, be taken up for consideration by the House or the Houses of Parliament in which it is pending.

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Printable version | Apr 11, 2021 3:50:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/acting-against-a-judge/article23763882.ece

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