Sunday, July 21, 2019 03:51:25 PM
The Supreme Court has outlined a 39-point code of conduct for judges in the decision reinstituting the Supreme Judicial Council and declaring the 16th constitutional amendment illegal.
"Individual judges are subject to a strong system of internal accountability in respect of legal errors and personal conduct," Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha wrote in the decision.
"Judges individually are accountable to the public in the sense that in general their decisions are in public and are discussed, often critically, in the media and by interest group that judges can be removed for serious misconduct, disciplinary or criminal offence or incapacity that renders them unable to discharge their functions."
The code of conduct included in the decision is meant to clear up any 'confusion and misgivings', Justice Sinha said.
What to follow:
(1) A judge should participate in establishing, maintaining, and enforcing high standards of conduct, and should personally observe those standards so that the integrity and independence of the judiciary is preserved.
(2) A judge should respect and comply with the constitution and law, and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the judiciary.
(3) A judge should not allow family, social, or other relationships to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge should not lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of others; nor convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.
(4) A judge should be faithful to and maintain professional competence in the law, and should not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamour, or fear of criticism.
(5) A judge should be patient, dignified, respectful, and courteous to litigants, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity, and should require similar conduct of those officers to the judge's control, including lawyers to the extent consistent with their role in adversarial system.
(6) A judge should dispose of promptly the business of the court including avoiding inordinate delay in delivering judgments/orders. In no case a judgment shall be signed later than six months of the date of delivery of judgment.
(7) A judge should avoid public comment on the merit of a pending or impending court case.
(8) A judge shall disqualify himself/herself in a proceeding in which the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned.
(9) A judge shall disqualify himself/herself to hear a matter/cause where he served as lawyer in the matter in controversy, or with whom the judge previously practiced during such association as a lawyer concerning the matter, or the judge or such lawyer has been a material witness.
(10) A judge shall not hear any matter if he/her knows or if he/she is aware or if it is brought into his/her notice that, individually or as a fiduciary, the judge or the judge's spouse or children have a financial interest in the subject matter in controversy or is a party to the proceeding, or any other interest that could be affected substantially.
(11) A judge requires a degree of detachment and objectivity in judicial dispensation and he is duty bound by the oath of office.
(12) A judge should practise a degree of aloofness consistent with the dignity of his office.
(13) A judge should not engage directly or indirectly in trade or business, either by himself or in association with any other person.
(14) A judge must at all times be conscious that he is under the public gaze and there should be no act or omission by him which is unbecoming of his office and the public esteem in which that office is held.
(15) A judge should not engage in any political activities, whatsoever in the country and abroad.
(16) A judge shall disclose his assets and liabilities, if asked for, by the chief justice.
(17) Justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. The behaviour and conduct of a member of the higher judiciary must reaffirm the people's faith in the impartiality of the judiciary. Accordingly, any act of a judge, whether in official or personal capacity, which erodes the credibility of this perception has to be avoided.
(18) Close association with individual members of the Bar, particularly those who practice in the same court, shall be eschewed.
(19) A judge should not permit any member of his immediate family, such as spouse, son, daughter, son-in-law or daughter-in-law or any other close relative, if a member of the Bar, to appear before him or even be associated in any manner with a cause to be dealt with by him.
(20) No member of his family, who is a member of the Bar, shall be permitted to use the residence in which the judge actually resides or other facilities for professional work.
(21) A judge shall not enter into public debate or express his views in public on political matters or on matters that are pending or are likely to arise for judicial determination.
(22) A judge is expected to let his judgments speak for themselves. He shall not give interview to the media.
(23) A judge shall disqualify himself or herself from participating in any proceedings in which the judge is unable to decide the matter impartially or in which it may appear to a prudent man that the Judge is unable to decide the matter impartially. Such proceedings include, but are not limited to, instances where the Judge has actual bias or prejudice concerning a party or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings.
(24) A judge shall ensure that his or her conduct is above reproach in the view of a reasonable observer.
(25) The behaviour and conduct of a judge must reaffirm the people's faith in the integrity of the judiciary.
(26) A judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the Judge's activities.
(27) As a subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge must accept personal restrictions that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizens and should do so freely and willingly.
(28) A judge shall, in his/her personal relationship with individual members of the legal profession who practice regularly in the judge's court, avoid situations which might reasonably give rise to the suspicion or appearance of favoritism or partiality.
(29) A judge shall not participate in the determination of a case in which any member of the judge's family represents a litigant or is associated in any manner with the case.
(30) A judge shall not allow the use of the Judge's residence by a member of the legal profession to receive clients or other members of the legal profession.
(31) A judge shall not allow his/her family to maintain social or other relationship improperly to influence any judicial matter pending in his/her court.
(32) A judge shall not use or lend the prestige of the judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge, a member of the judge's family or of anyone else, nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that anyone is in a special position improperly to influence the Judge in the performance of judicial duties.
(33) A judge shall not practice law or maintain law chamber while he is holding judicial office.
(34) A judge and members of the judge's family, shall neither ask for, nor accept, any gift, bequest, loan or favour in relation to anything done or to be done or omitted to be done by the Judge in connection with the performance of judicial duties.
(35) A judge shall maintain order and decorum in all proceedings before the court and be patient, dignified and courteous in relation to litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the Judge deals in an official capacity. The judge shall require similar conduct from legal representatives, court staff and others subject to the Judge's influence, direction or control.
(36) A judge shall not engage in conduct incompatible with the diligent discharge of judicial duties.
(37) A judge shall sit in and rise from the court in time without fail and in case the chief justice notices that a Judge does not utilise the time allocated for judicial works, the chief justice shall intimate the judge by writing to maintain the court's time and despite such notice if the Judge does not rectify, such conduct be treated as misconduct and he/she will be dealt with in accordance with law.
(38) (a) If a complaint is received by the chief justice from anybody or any other sources that the conduct of a Judge is unbecoming of a Judge, that is to say, the Judge is unable to perform his/her judicial works due to incapacity or misbehaviour, the chief justice shall hold an inquiry into such activities with other next two senior most Judges of the Appellate Division and if the chief justice or any one of the other Judges declines to hold a preliminary inquiry or if the allegation is against any one of them, the judge who is next in seniority to them shall act as such member and if upon such inquiry it found that there is prima-facie substance in the allegation the Chief Justice shall recommend to the president.
(b) A complaint against a judge shall be processed expeditiously and fairly and the judge shall have the opportunity to comment on the complaint by writing at the initial stage. The examination of the complaint at its initial stage shall be kept confidential, unless otherwise requested by the judge.
(d) All disciplinary action shall be based on established standards of judicial conduct.
(39) The above code of conduct and the ethical values to be followed by a judge, failing which, it shall be considered as gross misconduct.
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