CJI takes guarded stand on PM's remark on corruption

CJI takes guarded stand on PM's remark on corruption Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan today was guarded on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks on corruption being a challenge "we face both in government and the judiciary." At a press briefing after a day-long conference of CM's and CJI's of High Courts, he said what Singh meant was corruption-related cases pending before the judiciary and augmentation of the infrastructure for their speedy disposal. But on being asked to react to the remarks in the light of the Judges' Inquiry Bill which aims to increase judicial accountability being redrafted by the government, he said "I don't want to comment on a pending bill." Asked if statements of assets of judges, including chief justices of High Courts, were being received annually, the Chief Justice said "Supreme Court judges give their property statement at the time of appointment and further purchases made later are informed." Queried about the in-house mechanism for taking up complaints against judges, the Chief Justice said action is taken if the complaint was of a serious nature. "But most of the complaints are filed by litigants who lose court cases," he said. On the question of the applicability of the Right to Information Act to the office of the Chief Justice of India, the CJI said the Act did not apply to him as he was a constitution authority and not a government official. He denied reports that judges had sought a pay hike. "We have never made any request to the government to increase our salary," he said. The CJI also denied that the issue of increase in the retirement age for judges had come up for discussion among apex court judges. "We have not discussed the issue of increase of age for judges," he said. Asked if the provision of evening courts was likely to be extended to the apex court, the CJI said, "there is absolutely no possibility." He, however, added that the Supreme Court had reduced its vacation by one week in a year and it had been decided that judges would even work during vacations. "About half a dozen judges would be working during the forthcoming vacations," he said. Giving details of the reduction in number of holidays by various High Courts, the Chief Justice said, "we have requested the Chief Justices to increase the working hours by half hour. If this was not possible, then the number of holidays in a year should be reduced." He said the conference passed 21 items and said the interaction was fruitful and would help increasing the judiciary's efficiency.
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