Many connected to judiciary in one way or other understand ‘Uncle Judges’ issue and it was laudably highlighted by the Apex Court of this Country. It is in fact a very serious problem, but, finding a solution is not easy. There is an urgent need to look at the functioning of ‘Higher Judiciary’ and the judges of Superior Courts. The reason is very simple. Despite all the criticism, people still repose faith in Superior Courts in this Country and I strongly believe that Superior Courts discharge their responsibility well though there can be exceptions. If the alleged problems at Higher Judiciary go too deep, then, turning the clock back would definitely be difficult as is the case in case of Lower Judiciary in this country. When it comes to Higher Judiciary, it is enough if we concentrate on the issue of transparency from registry to Court, appointment of able and committed professional as judges, establishing an internal mechanism under the supervision of concerned Chief Justice to do introspection from time to time and more importantly the issue of effective mechanism to deal with the serious corrupt allegations. It is not ones intention to support for a mechanism providing room for executive to exercise control over Judiciary, but, what if the we fail to introspect ourselves. People raise questions and people are supreme. If the Judiciary in this Country has to retain the great respect and also the authority by securing support from the people, then, it is important to focus on judicial reforms. The Judiciary should never loose respect and the great authority by the actions of very few and it is important to have a mechanism where no one can raise finger at the functioning of judiciary. If judiciary fails, then, democracy automatically fails and there can not be any meaning for ‘Human Rights’.
Indian judiciary has played a very great role in public interest and every one knows the significance of ‘basic structure theory’, ‘public interest litigations’, ‘doctrine of sustainable development’, ‘human rights’ and the role being played in dealing with the issue of imparting education. There are many such things. People get a feeling that those great traditions and commitment in judiciary is slowly getting reduced and the judges appear to have a feeling that they are supreme and exercise unlimited authority in dealing with the case before them. Judges get lot of respect, security and many other privileges and they have every right to demand for privileges for the work they do. It is enough if we do our work properly and there is no need for reference to ‘service’ which can not be forced on someone and service attitude should always be voluntary. Integrity of the country is important, country is important, people are important, public interest is important, Human Rights are important; and we should never be concerned at few people. The unfortunate thing is that everyone is thinking that nothing will happen even if he or she is committed or clean as there exist rampant corruption in the society. Its not a good trend.
Coming back to the issue of ‘Uncle Judge’ issue, it exists and it is quite natural. We can not deal with these issues with strict regulations. Many young judges must be the junior advocates of noted Senior Lawyers of a particular High Court and the same Senior Advocate represents before his junior who has become the judge. I am referring the issue on principle though it is not closely related to the issue of ‘Uncle Judges’. It is also unfair to say that the relatives of a Judge should not practice in that particular High Court though the relatives should not appear before the judge with whom they are related to closely. It’s a very complicated issue. For example, though an advocate is not connected to a Judge in one way or other, a particular judge may give importance, respect etc. to a particular advocate or Senior Advocate based on his qualities, intelligence, service to the profession and integrity. There is nothing wrong in this and infact, it should continue though no one can be prejudged and no one should get unfair advantage over other professional in Court. ‘Uncle Judges’ issue is a serious thing having no immediate solutions. Only an effective Bar can deal with this issue. But, for the reasons not known, the Bar is not active these days as many feel. The Bar should be active and many are inspired in fact, to note the work of Late Shri H.M.Seervai when he was at the Bombay Bar. Many read these things and professionals like H.M.Seervai continue to be respected by many generations and they continue to inspire people.
The possible solution to the issue of ‘Uncle Judges’ is the effective transfer mechanism based on serious allegations and taking utmost care when it comes to the appointment of judges to the High Courts etc. When we talk about the effective mechanism to deal with the allegations of corruption against High Court judges, we can not overrule false allegations, motivated allegations etc. As such, there should be proper balance in the Mechanism and the fraudulent litigants should accordingly be dealt with. But, the problem now is that even when a clear and serious corrupt case is proved against an acting judge, then, there is no remedy and he is allowed to continue and the impeachment process is hectic. If judiciary wants to retain the same respect and authority as guaranteed under Constitution of India, we should look within and do introspection and should find a mechanism as to how to fix certain problems. People understand all the difficulties and at the same, they will not remain calm now a day with all-round development and active media.
As such it is not easy to deal with ‘Uncle Judges’ issue except adopting an effective transfer mechanism based on serious allegations of corruption, favoritism etc.
Note: the views expressed are my personal, made in public interest, with all the respect to judiciary and judges.
V.DURGA RAO, Advocate, Madras High Court.