Thursday, August 09, 2007

Lawyers' boycott of a Judge ends

This blog carried the post on the bizarre case of the Judge, Justice Uma Nath Singh of Punjab and Haryana High Court, whose order directing the CBI to take into custody an advocate, and subject him to treatment at a mental asylum created a huge uproar leading to boycott of his court by all the lawyers. The 16-day boycott of the Judge has now been lifted, after the Judge came out of his court, and almost apologised to the agitating lawyers for his behaviour.

The resolution of this controversy again in a bizarre manner raises questions about the effectiveness of the in-house procedure to deal with complaints against a Judge. The Bill to amend the Judges Inquiry Act is yet to be cleared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee, and there are reports that the Bill may undergo further revisions. The powers of the National Judicial Council in dealing with such matters are yet not clear, as the Bill is subjected to intense scrutiny by the Committee. One has to await the final outcome, as it is unlikely that it may become the law in the ensuing monsoon session of Parliament.

The Judge waited for 16 days to make peace with the agitating lawyers. The lawyers were touched by the Judge's gesture. They will now wait and watch, before pressing their demands to transfer the Judge, withdraw work from him, and even impeach him. The episode leaves certain questions unanswered: Could the Judge have issued such an order at the first instance? Is the CBI bound to obey such an order? Does the Chief Justice of the High Court have any role to play when dealing with such complaints? What happens to the hearing of the stay of the order issued by the Single Judge by the Division Bench?
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