Should Indian judges be above the law?
India’s law minister on Tuesday was forced to defer the introduction of the Judges (Declaration of Assets and Liabilities) Bill because of strong protests from the opposition as well as his own party members.
For once, they raised their voices in unison against the provision that while judges are required to declare their assets before a designated authority, they are protected from public scrutiny and questioning.
A hotly contested section of the Bill says: “no judge shall be subjected to any inquiry or query in relation to the contents of the declaration by any person”.
Congress party’s own leaders have objected, saying the proposed law could violate the Right to Information Act that has empowered people and helped expose corruption.
It has invited scorn from lawyers, too: well-known lawyer Ram Jethmalani has described it as “a conspiracy in corruption” that would make people suspicious of the judiciary and places the latter “on a higher pedestal than any other public servant in the country”.
Law Minister Veerappa Moily has said the government was working on more comprehensive judicial reforms and that this was only a first step.
But until then, should our revered judges deserve special treatment? Why should they be above the law that governs other people in power and, indeed, the rest of the country?