Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Make judicial system more transparent - Deccan Herald Blog

The issue of selection of an allegedly corrupt Chief Justice of Karnataka, PD Dinakaran, to the Apex Court still remains a hot subject of public interest. While news of Dinakaran hits the headlines almost every day, the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the principal architect of the Supreme Court Collegiums that nominated Dinakaran in the first place, has chosen to keep silent about whether or not Dinakaran should be impeached.

This is on the ground that issues pertaining to the judges’ selection process should not be discussed in an open public forum. But the question is why not? Citizens in any democratic country must have the right to know the background and character of the judges that would decide rights and wrongs of the society. Some try to argue that everything about the judges must remain behind closed doors as otherwise their judicial independence might be jeopardized. Such arguments can possibly have no logical basis.

All federal judges in the USA, even for the Supreme Court, must go through a rigorous cross-examination process by both houses of the Congress before they could be affirmed for the judicial post. The cross-examination is shown to the public in live television. This only provides more transparency to the entire system of judges’ selection and helps to weed out the corrupt and disingenuous persons ever becoming a judge.

Many judges in the US nominated by the president, even those selected for the Supreme Court, have been rejected by the Congress after they failed to perform when questioned about their sordid past in live public television. Justice Clarence Thomas, a sitting member of the US Supreme Court (they have life-time appointment in the US federal courts), went through incredible public humiliation during the public cross-examination process by the members of the Congress before being appointed to the Supreme Court about allegations of sexual harassment and his past relationship with Anita Hill, one of his subordinates earlier in his career. But the intense public grilling of Justice Thomas did not infringe on his judicial independence and instead, it perhaps made him a stronger and better judge in the Apex Court.

There can be no reason for the Indian CJI to go behind the curtain about questions on Justice Dinakaran. Truth is always right and the justice system must not shy away from bringing the truth to the knowledge of every citizen of the country. May be it is time that the Indian lawmakers think about moving forward with the time and make changes in the law for complete transparency in the process of selection of judges.

Posted by : Dr. Kunal Saha Professor, HIV/AIDS Center Columbus, Ohio, USA 
 Deccan Herald Blog

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