Judicial ethics and Code of conduct for judges play an important role in the judiciary system in India. The integrity of the entire judiciary is compromised when a judge fails to adhere to the code of conduct or do something which is ethically incorrect. It is important that everyone in the judiciary should maintain their integrity and judicial discipline. Judicial integrity as a part of judicial ethics, either inside or outside the courtroom, is essential for the independence of the judiciary. It is prerequisite for the judges to be impartial and avoid judicial impropriety to the best of their capacity.
To guarantee that there is no presence of judicial impropriety, various laws and measure have been taken and adopted by the Constitution for the self-improvement of the judges. Article 124(4)read with proviso (b) to Article 124(2)of the Indian Constitution emphases on the interpretation of Misbehaviour and “how President can remove a judge on proved misbehaviour or incapacity with a majority.”
“A judge shall act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.”
Meaning of Judicial Impropriety
It has been defined as “any act of a judicial officer that violates the law, violates the court rules, and violates specific provisions of the code of judicial conduct.”
It is important for the judges to know their constitutional duties and to adhere with them under any circumstance. If a judge is having any conflict of personal interest with that of judicial duty, it is essential that the judge should keep their judicial duty first. If they don’t do that, separate legislation is made with the intent to keep a check and ensure that judges are performing their judicial duty in good faith. The legislation, that was passed was Judges Enquiry Act, 1964. This act provides a procedure for the investigation and to find evidence of misbehaviour or incapacity of judges. This act was passed with the aim of judicial accountability.
Forms of Judicial Impropriety
Misuse of Office
It is a case when a judicial officer tries to abuse its power for his own interest. When a judge goes beyond its capacity and allows its family members, friends or any other relationship to influence his code of conduct or his judgement, it leads to misuse of the judge’s powers. In the case of Sarojini Ramaswami vs Union of India, Justice Ramaswami was held guilty of misusing his office.
Up till now, almost all the cases reported with this cause have been of financial discretions where the judge is putting his economic interest over the public interest and do not do them justice. The first-ever case on this cause in the 1980s was Justice V. Ramaswami vs Union of India. It was a case of audit done regarding the purchases made by the high court.
Any involvement of judicial officer with any political activity or any party is discouraged and out of scope. Judicial officer tends to be a public servant and supporting a particular political activity or party is viewed as impartial behaviour. Judicial officers are not allowed to interfere in political matters unless and until it concerns the public interest of the citizens of the country. In the case of Ram Pratap Sharma vs Dayanand, it was held that “a judge shall not accept any invitation and hospitality of any business or commercial organization or of any political party or organization run or sectarian, communal or parochial line.”
It is said that Courtrooms are the most dignified places where judges, lawyers, court officials, all deals in an official capacity with courteousness and patience. Moreover, if someone does not follow this, judges should be the first one to criticize the person misbehaving. But there are cases where judges are misusing their power and passing ill-comments or showing rude behaviour to the court staff or the people present in the courtroom. A judge, in no capacity, can harass, abuse on the basis of caste, gender, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation or political affiliation.
After analysing Article 124(2) and the present scenario of judicial impropriety, it is clear that there is legislation provided with an intent to remove judges on grounds of misbehaviour and incapacity but there is no reasonable precedent to prove its practical application in the real world. The process of removing a judge is very slow and requires strong evidence against the judicial officer. It is practically very difficult to take disciplinary action against the judicial officer.
It is very essential to maintain judicial discipline and judicial ethics in the judiciary system in India, as the faith of India lies on our judiciary system. Strict legislation and continuous investigation will help to safeguard our faith. It is essential that our citizens should be content with the working of the judiciary system. Therefore, it is important to control the judicial impropriety to safeguard our citizen’s faith in our justice system of India.
Indian Constitution. Article 124, clause 4
Indian Constitution. Article 124, clause 2
Justice G.S. Singhvi, Judicial Ethics, Journal of Delhi Judicial Academy, 7(2), 93-106 (2011)
Canon 2A, Ethical Standards for Judges, Rule 1.2, 1999
1992 (4) SCC 506
1977 AIR 809, 1977 SCR (1) 242
Ram Pratap Sharma vs Dayanand, 1977 AIR 809, 1977 SCR (1) 242
Indian Constitution. Article 124, clause 2
This article is written by Tithi Aggarwal student of BBA LLB (Hons.) at Delhi Metropolitan Education, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University
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