THE former Chief Justice of India, Justice Y.K.Sabharwal has come under a cloud, following revelations in the latest Tehelka (cover story). The story, carrying allegations made at a press conference and subsequently on a website, claims that there is sufficient documentation to show that he indulged in judicious deal-making while hearing the sealing of commercial properties in residential areas of Delhi, and allowed his sons, involved in construction of multi-crore malls, earn huge profits. The story also includes an interview with the former law minister, Shanti Bhushan on the issues involved in Justice Sabharwal's alleged impropriety. The story and the interview are here and here.
Justice Sabharwal apparently refused to talk to Tehelka to answer these allegations, which on the face of it, seem serious. The issues involved are a perception of conflict of interests, propriety, code of conduct for Judges, and investigation into the facts to substantiate/falsify the allegations made against him. It requires a willingness on the part of the Judge concerned, and the Judiciary to discuss and explain each of these allegations in a transparent manner, and not just stonewall the demands for greater transparency and accountability. Because at stake is the very image of the Higher Judiciary, its credibility as an institution and a pillar of democracy. It is also a serious test of the Judiciary's in-house mechanism to handle such allegations, with objectivity.