March 6, 2024
symbolizing the legal focus

Since accountability upholds citizens’ rights and administers justice that should be equal for all, it is proclaimed to be the fundamental requirement of any democracy. It is accurate to say that the judiciary is an independent body with the power to make decisions about cases on its own. However, the decisions that are made afterward have an impact on the general public, so judges must take responsibility for their choices.

Therefore, the judiciary must strike a balance in order to control its operation and encourage impartiality among the judges when rendering a decision.

judicial accountability meaning

  • The concept of judicial accountability holds that justices are responsible for the decisions they make. It also means that justices have to take responsibility for their actions. The government’s judicial branch is not subject to the same accountability requirements as the legislative or executive branches.
  • Judges alone are accountable for their decisions. Transparency in the decision-making process ensures accountability. It is the responsibility of all public authorities to answer to the people for the decisions they make and the tasks they complete. The responsibilities and tasks fulfilled by the public body determine the degree of accountability.
  • In a similar vein, accountability also extends to the government’s judiciary branch. Nonetheless, the judicial branch of the government is not subject to the same accountability requirements as the legislative or executive branches.

judicial accountability examples

  • The 2011 impeachment case against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court serves as one illustration of judicial accountability in India. The Rajya Sabha approved a motion for his removal after he was accused of financial misconduct.
  • This case demonstrates the dedication to maintaining judicial integrity and transparency by highlighting the judiciary’s accountability through the constitutional indictment process.

judicial accountability in indian constitution: Provisions

  • The Indian Constitution provides for the impeachment of judges of the Supreme Court of India and the High Courts for misbehaviour and incompetence, respectively, under Articles 124 and 217.
  • The Constitution’s Article 235 states that the High Court has “control” over the lower courts. It provides a robust enforcement mechanism to ensure that the lower judiciary is held responsible.
  • In 1997, the Indian Supreme Court approved the Restatement of Judicial Life, a charter. The public’s trust in the judiciary’s impartiality must be restored by the higher judicial branch’s acts and behaviour.

judicial accountability in indian constitution: Imperatives

  • It is essential for each person in a democratic system of government to take responsibility for their acts. This covers not just elected officials but also judges and administrative staff. Since the court is charged with enforcing the law, accountability is of the utmost importance.
  • Even though judges have a very important role, there have been cases where the public has become disenchanted with the legal system as a result of court decisions. To seek justice, some have gone so far as to take the law into their own hands. Judicial accountability is crucial to averting such situations.
  • Judicial accountability is a fundamental feature of the Indian legal system as well. It is anticipated of judges to carry out their duties fearlessly, impartially, and without partiality, respecting the nation’s laws and constitution.
  • Article 235 of the Indian Constitution establishes accountability as a necessary component of judicial independence. This clause gives the High Court the authority to exert control over the lower courts in order to guarantee their accountability.

judicial accountability in indian constitution: Case Rulings

  • In the case of S.P. Gupta v Union of India, the Supreme Court concurred that the judiciary must respond to inquiries from the public regarding the choices it makes on behalf of the public. The Constitution’s Article 19(1)(a) grants the public this right.
  • In the case of K. Veeraswami v Union of India, the Supreme Court ruled that a criminal investigation could not be launched against a superior court judge without the Chief Justice of India’s formal consent. Judge Veeraswami possessed assets that were wildly out of proportion to his salary. It has been extremely uncommon for a judge to be the subject of an investigation since this ruling.

The possibility that meddling with independence may be required shows that other goals, like fair and unbiased trials, are more crucial than the former and can only be fulfilled by an accountable court. Instead of being seen as an end in and of itself, independence should be seen as a means to an end. If responsibility is not given due consideration, we might witness a dangerous coalition of dishonest judges and politicians that will destroy democracy. The unique characteristics of the position demand distinct handling, which is carried out for the benefit of the nation. Remembering that the judiciary is subject to a different standard of accountability than the other two organs is also essential.

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