Clean up house, SC tells Allahabad HC

November 28, 2010
Abraham Thomas | New Delhi
Source: http://www.dailypioneer.com

Outraged over ‘uncle judges’ holding court
The Supreme Court has taken a serious view of wide-ranging allegations that sons and relatives of several judges of the Allahabad High court became "multi-millionaires" overnight.

Asking the Allahabad HC Chief Justice to undertake a "house-cleaning" exercise, which could include transfer of judges, the SC has asked that its order be sent to all high courts to check this "widespread malpractice of nepotism and favouritism".

Outraged over the well-known malaise of "uncle judges", the Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra said, "We are sorry to say but a lot of complaints are coming against certain judges of the Allahabad HC relating to their integrity."

Passing an order in an appeal arising from the Allahabad HC, the Bench added, "It really needs some house cleaning....We request the high court’s Chief Justice to do the needful even if he has to take some strong measures, including recommending transfers of the incorrigibles."

The "Restatement of Values of Judicial Life" forming the moral code of conduct for judges, adopted by the Supreme Court in 1997, judges need to eschew close association with members of the Bar. It does not even permit members of a judge’s family to practise in his court.

What prompted the Bench, in particular Justice Katju who hails from Allahabad, to pass the order was the receipt of specific complaints against some judges. The order read, "Some judges have their kith and kin practising in the same court....Within a few years of starting practice, the sons or relations of the judge become multi-millionaires, have huge bank balances, luxurious cars, huge houses...and...are enjoying a luxurious life."

But this is not all the Bench came to know about the "incorrigible" judges to recommend their transfer. "There are other serious complaints also against some HC judges," it noted.

The court passed the order while deciding a dispute relating to a wakf property in Bahraich district. The property fell under the jurisdiction of the Lucknow Bench. But a judge sitting on the Allahabad Bench, having no territorial jurisdiction in the matter, passed two orders in favour of the party which had approached the court.

The order was set aside by the Lucknow Bench, which the SC concurred with after arriving at the conclusion that the single judge passed the order on "extraneous considerations".

Commenting on the falling standards of integrity among judges, the Bench stated, "This (practice) is a far cry from the days when the sons and other relatives of judges could derive no benefit from their relationship and had to struggle at the Bar like any other lawyer." However, the court added, "Some (judges) are scrupulously taking care that no one should point fingers on this account."

Incidentally, the 230th Law Commission report, prepared in August 2009, demanded that those judges seen to favour their kith and kin be shifted out of the State in public interest.

"There are occasions when advocate judges either settle scores with the advocates who have practised with them or have a soft corner. In either case, this affects their impartiality and justice is the loser," the report had stated.

In September, the Madhya Pradesh HC Bar (Gwalior Bench) president had written to Chief Justice SH Kapadia requesting transfer of nine sitting judges. He gave details about their kith and kin practising in the same court.

He stated, "Many sitting judges are conducting themselves...to ensure that the practice of their relatives should flourish...till they are present on Bench as sitting judges."

Cracking whip on nepotism
We are sorry to say but a lot of complaints are coming against certain judges of the Allahabad High Court relating to their integrity

The Allahabad HC really needs some house cleaning....We request the high court's Chief Justice to do the needful even if he has to take some strong measures, including recommending transfers of the incorrigibles

Some judges have their kith and kin practising in the same court....Within a few years of starting practice, the sons or relations of the judge become multi-millionaires, have huge bank balances, luxurious cars, huge houses...and...are enjoying a luxurious life

This (practice) is a far cry from the days when the sons and other relatives of judges could derive no benefit from their relationship and had to struggle at the Bar like any other lawyer

Some (judges) are scrupulously taking care that no one should point fingers on this account Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra.