Mechanism soon to deal with `deviant behaviour' of judges

NEW DELHI Jan. 28. Expressing serious concern over recent reports of "deviant behaviour'' on the part of some High Court Judges, the Union Law Minister, Jana Krishnamurthy, today said the Government would soon come out with a mechanism to deal with such problems in a more effective manner.

Emphasising that the new mechanism would also be under the control of the judiciary and the executive would have absolutely no role to play, he said it would have legislative backing.

The currently available system only had the force of moral authority.

The Law Ministry, he said, was in the final stages of conceiving the new mechanism and it was hoped that necessary legislation in this regard would be brought in during the coming Budget session of Parliament. Two options were being studied: whether to amend the existing Judges Inquiry Act or to bring in new legislation.

A decision would be taken in about a fortnight.

Addressing a press conference here, he also announced that the Government proposed to soon convene an all-party meeting to discuss the setting up of a National Judicial Commission for selection and transfer of judges.

There was, by and large, a consensus among political parties on the need for such a panel, but the details have to be worked out.

The all-party meeting would aim to do so. The Government wanted the issue to be sorted out before the Budget session so that the panel could be set up at the earliest.

Mr. Krishnamurthy said his Ministry was also working speedily to set up an alternate dispute resolution system involving arbitration, conciliation and mediation to dispose of civil cases, which involved merely questions of fact and not law.

The new system would seek to address the two main factors that presently inhibit litigants from taking their cases for arbitration — lack of trained and competent arbitrators and a hefty arbitration fee. Under the new system, competent persons like retired judges would be appointed as arbitrators and the litigants would not be required to pay any arbitration fee.

An added attraction would be that the litigants would be allowed to take the help of lawyers to represent their case.

One chance for appeal in the High Court against the recommendations of the arbitrators would also be allowed.

The Minister said efforts were also underway to ensure that by April 1, not even a single post of High Court Judges across the country was vacant and that all the 1,734 fast track courts for disposal of pending criminal cases were set up soon.

So far, 1,203 fast track courts have been notified and of them, 937 have become operational.

The Law Ministry, he said, had also taken the initiative to formulate a comprehensive legislation against sexual crimes and was in touch with the Home Ministry in this regard.

Besides, it was taking steps to upgrade legal education in the country, particularly in the context of economic liberalisation and entry of multinationals in industry, trade and commerce.

Among other things, measures were afoot to establish a Central Law University, which would provide guidance to law colleges in the country.

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