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Who would watch the watchdog, asks CJI

November 18, 2008 19:49 IST

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Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan, who has been pro-active in tackling corruption in higher judiciary, on Tuesday expressed concern over such cases which have raised questions over who would watch the watchdog.
"In recent months, there has been considerable anxiety on account of allegation of corruption in the higher judiciary. The judiciary is the watchdog of the rights of citizens and these instances have once again raised the question of who will watch the watchdog," he said in a conference on deterioration of moral values in society.

"Practises such as the acceptance of favours or misappropriation of public funds have actually come to be described as perks of holding public office and employment," he said, adding that ordinary citizens face unnecessary problems in their daily life due to prevalence of corruption in public institutions.

He said that disparity in pay-scale of public and private sector might be one of the reasons of this malaise.

"The extent of corruption may have a link with the increasing disparity between the pay-scales offered in the public and private sectors," he said, adding, "The pervasive culture of graft provokes pessimism about the quality of governance."

While referring to International laws he said that the prevalence of corruption is now considered to be a violation of basic human rights.

"This means that the act of demanding or accepting bribes in lieu of performing routine governmental functions is being equated with unjust restraint on personal liberty � such as suppression of civil liberties and arbitrary detention," he said.

"If this understanding is adopted in India, then there will be a case for the judiciary to grant constitutional remedies in respect of instances of corruption, over and above the statutory remedies envisaged under the Prevention of Corruption Act," the CJI said.

"Legal and judicial measures for deterring corruption are only a part of the solution. The long-term solution lies in the realm of education at all levels whereby the importance of personal integrity and the spirit of public service will be imbibed in our citizens," he said.

He emphasised that the differences in a democratic societies should be resolved by means of dialogue.

"In a pluralist society such as ours, there are bound to be perpetual differences as well as conflicts among the interest of various sections. However, the test for building an inclusive nation is one that pertains to the means used to resolve these differences," he said.

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