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Punish erring judges, says Bar Council

May 05, 2003 14:16 IST

D V Subbarao, chairman of the Bar Council of India, has demanded that judges of the high courts facing allegations of corruption be allocated no work until they are cleared of the charges.

Subbarao told that the provision for impeachment of judges of the higher courts must be done away with and replaced with a suitable mechanism whereby judges accused of corruption can be tried and punished if found guilty.

"Since impeachment of judges is a cumbersome process it has lost its relevance," Subbarao said.

Currently, judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court cannot be removed from office unless two-thirds of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha vote for an impeachment motion.

"The government must come out with an alternative mechanism whereby the higher judiciary is made accountable," Subbarao said. "It is high time we did this because a number of cases involving high court judges have come under investigation in recent months."

Subbarao said the Bar Council had demanded this process in a resolution adopted in February. "We are reasserting those points because of the developments which saw the arrest of Shamit Mukherjee," he said. Mukherjee, a former judge of the Delhi high court, was arrested last week on charges of corruption.

A new mechanism of accountability for high court and Supreme Court judges would remove the disparity between the lower and the higher judiciary, he pointed out. "High courts have the power to punish lower court judges if  they indulge in corruption. As far as we are concerned, high court and Supreme Court judges must not have immunity if they violate the law."

Onkar Singh in New Delhi