Monday, July 8, 2013

Relatives of 9 judges appointed law officers - The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - Main News

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has at least nine Judges with kin appointed as law officers in Punjab and Haryana. The Haryana Lokpal and retired Judges too have their relatives in the offices of Punjab and Haryana Advocates-General.
Their appointment is significant as Chief Justice of India-designate, Justice P Sathasivam has reportedly made it clear that he is not in favour of sons and daughters of Judges practising in the same court. Justice Sathasivam has reportedly asserted that the Judges must ensure that their sons/daughters do not practice in the same court.

In the case of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Judges not only have their kin practising in the same court, but also appointed as law officers.
The Judges with relatives in the AG office include Justice Ritu Bahri, Justice MS Sullar, Justice NK Sanghi, Justice RS Malik, Justice RK Garg, Justice Hemant Gupta, Justice RP Nagrath, Justice TPS Mann and Justice RC Gupta.

The retired Judges with relatives in the AG office include former Chief Justice of India Justice AS Anand, Justice Pritam Pal, Justice HS Brar, Justice AN Jindal, Justice RS Madan, Justice SD Anand, Justice AS Chaudhary, Justice AS Nehra, and Justice S Sarup.
Some of the Judges, transferred out of Chandigarh, but with relatives in the AG office are Justice Alok Singh, Justice Ashutosh Mohunta and Justice Vinod K Sharma. Haryana Lokpal-cum-former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Pritam Pal has two relatives in the Haryana AG's office and another in the Punjab AG's office.

Justice SD Anand has two relatives in the AG's office. The association of law officers with the Judges can hardly be considered a disqualification and the competence of some of them has never been questioned.
Yet their appointments have come under the scanner following a protest by a section of the Punjab and Haryana High Court advocates. Describing the trend as harmful “for the independence of the judiciary”, these advocates have asked a sitting Judge to “begin a new era in judicial honesty by asking his son to resign from the post of Additional Advocate-General so that other Judges may follow him”.

The advocates wrote: “Now it has become a routine that as soon as one becomes Judge, his son is appointed Additional Advocates-General by the Panjab and Haryana Governments and the UT Administration takes him on their panel without any experience….”

The Supreme Court, too, has decried in a number of judgments the trend of Judges having relatives practising in the same courts.
Only recently, the apex court in the case of Raja Khan versus UP Sunni Central Waqf Board held: “A lot of complaints are coming against certain Judges of the Allahabad High Court relating to their integrity. Some Judges have their kith and kin practising in the same court, and within a few years of starting practice, the sons or relatives of the Judge become multi-millionaires, have huge bank balances, luxurious cars, huge houses... “We do not mean to say that all lawyers who have close relations as Judges of the High Court are misusing that relationship. Some are scrupulously taking care that no one lifts a finger on this account. However, others are shamelessly taking advantage of this relationship….”

The issue of “uncle judges” in the Punjab and Haryana High Court was first raised by the then Chief Justice BK Roy during his tenure from October 14, 2002, to March 20, 2005. He had issued an administrative order barring a group of 10-12 Judges from hearing any case argued by their relatives.
The list earlier forwarded by the High Court to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice had also mentioned the names of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, Justice MM Kumar, Justice KC Puri, Justice KS Ahluwalia, Justice Sabina, Justice Jora Singh, Justice Gurdev Singh and Justice Harbans Lal. Most of these Judges have been transferred out or elevated or have retired.

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