1. Judicial Accountability: intro?
  2. Judges Impeachment: India
  3. Justice Soumitra Sen impeachment
  4. Justice P Dinakaran impeachment
  5. Reforms necessary
  6. Judicial Standards and Accountability(JSA) Bill
  7. National Judicial Oversight Committee
  8. Sri Lankan Chief Justice Impeachment
  9. Mock Questions

Judicial Accountability: intro?

Judicial Impeachment is an ongoing issue in a lot of countries, including India. There are a lot of related topics in this issue, which will be discussed below individually.

  • The judiciary is the interpreter of the constitution.
  • It is the chief redressal mechanism for all the citizens.
  • Its accountability is therefore utmost necessary.
  • But, the review of the accountability cannot lie fully with the legislature too.
  • Hence in India, we have a system in place under the Judges Inquiry Act,1968.

Judges Impeachment: India

  • A minimum number of 100 members in Lok Sabha or 50 members in Rajya Sabha have to give motion for the impeachment of a judge.
  • An inquiry committee is setup with the constitution as follows
    1. Chief Justice or any other Judge of the Supreme Court.
    2. One Chief Justice of High Court.
    3. An eminent Jurist.
  • After the committee enquires into the matter, report submitted to house.
  • The judge (SC or HC judge) has to be proved to have acted in incapacity or misbehavior.
  • The motion is put to vote and when both houses pass the motion with a 2/3rd members present and an absolute majority, the judge is impeached.

Justice Soumitra Sen impeachment

  • Motion was brought by Mr.Arun Jaitley and Mr.Sitaram Yechury in Rajya Sabha.
  • The enquiry was setup and Justice Sen was found guilty of misappropriating funds related to a case.
  • The RS passed the motion.
  • Before it could go to LS for voting, Justice Sen resigns.
  • Now, since he has resigned from his post, there is no case of impeaching him.
  • The law is silent regarding the resignation of judge during impeachment. Hence, there is no legal binding on the judge to sit through the impeachment proceeding.
  • This has enabled Mr.Sen to live like a “common citizen”, getting his pensions, boasting legal titles ex-SC judge, etc. He gets monthly pension too!!

Justice P Dinakaran impeachment

  • The motion was brought in LS.
  • The committee was formed to look into the allegations was formed.
  • Before the committee could even start doing some fact finding, Justice Dinakaran resigned.

Reforms necessary

  • The judges can easily escape the embarrassment of an impeachment proceeding by resigning from their post.
  • So even if a judge has resigned, the proceedings should continue against him for impeachment.
  • A resignation can be accepted only if the President accepts it. Even without amending the law, the President can withhold the resignation letter of the judge till the proceedings follow through.
  • For a long term solution, an amendment has to be passed to make sure that if an impeachment proceeding has been accepted in the Parliament, then resignation is not an option!

Now, let us look at some other current affairs related to Judicial Impeachment.

Judicial Standards and Accountability(JSA) Bill

  • Though the above reforms do not come under this bill, the JSA bill is an amendment to the procedure to be followed in matters of impeachment of judges.

The Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 requires

  1. Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 requires
  2. lays down judicial standards, and
  3. establishes processes for removal of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

National Judicial Oversight Committee

  • The Bill establishes the National Judicial Oversight Committee, the Complaints Scrutiny Panel and an investigation committee.
  • Any person can make a complaint against a judge to the Oversight Committee on grounds of ‘misbehaviour’.
  • A motion for removal of a judge on grounds of misbehaviour can also be moved in Parliament.
  • Such a motion will be referred for further inquiry to the Oversight Committee.
  • Complaints and inquiries against judges will be confidential and frivolous complaints will be penalised.
  • The Oversight Committee may issue advisories or warnings to judges, and also recommend their emoval to the President. (Courtesy: prsindia.org)

Sri Lankan Chief Justice Impeachment

  • SL CJ Mrs.Shinara Bandaranayake was appointed, first, as a SC judge without any experience in 1996.
  • She was an Associate Professor at the University of Colombo earlier.
  • Hence, her appointment as the Chief Justice was also widely seen as politically motivated.
  • In 2012, she did not allow the SL Parliament to pass a vital bill giving for wide powers to the Centre overriding the powers of the Provinces.
  • So, the Parliament started impeachment proceedings against her in allegations of corruption, misappropriation of funds, corruption charges related to her husband, overstepping of authority,etc.
  • The main problem in SL is that there is no law, like the Judges Inquiry Act in India, to define the process for impeachment proceedings.
  • When a similar issue came up in 1984, the SL Parliament passed a standing order to form a Parliamentary Select Committee(PSC) for investigating impeachment allegations.
  • The PSC formed in this case was widely political in its constitution, with 7 of its 11 members being from the ruling party.
  • Without any surprises, the PSC recommended the impeachment of Mrs.Bandaranayake and the SL President has also appointed a new Chief Justice.
  • Though the allegations maybe true or false, the way in which the PSC was formed and the whole trial was conducted, has tainted the impeachment proceeding. This has also lead to widespread support to Mrs.Bandaranayake.

Mock Questions

1. Who among the following will be members of an enquiry committee if setup, to look into allegations resulting in removal of judge in the Supreme Court of India?

  1. Judge of the Supreme Court
  2. Chief Justice of  a High Court
  3. Judge of a High Court
  4. Eminent Jurist

Answer choice:

a) A,B,C b)A,B,D c)A,D, B or C d) None of these

2. Who is the new Chief Justice of Sri Lankan Supreme Court?

  1. Mohan Peiris
  2. Kumar Rantanade
  3. C.G.Weeramantry
  4. Shirana Bandaranayake


  1. What are the main features of the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill,2010? (150 words)
  2. Sri Lankan Chief Justice impeachment was a case of right impeachment through wrong methods. Do you agree? (200 words)

This is a Guest Article by Shiva Ram