Judicial Accountability

February 1, 2024


The role of the judiciary in a democratic society is paramount, and the public’s trust in the legal system is a bedrock for the functioning of a just and equitable society. However, with the power vested in judges, the concept of judicial accountability becomes imperative. Judicial accountability is not only a moral imperative but is intricately woven into the constitutional fabric of India, ensuring that the judiciary remains transparent, accountable, and aligned with the principles of justice.

Defining Judicial Accountability:

Judicial accountability, at its core, entails holding judges responsible for their decisions, actions, and overall conduct in the administration of justice. It is a multifaceted concept encompassing ethical standards, procedural fairness, and adherence to the rule of law. The principles of judicial accountability are embedded in the Constitution of India, reflecting a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity within the judiciary.

Judicial Accountability in the Constitution of India: The Constitution of India explicitly addresses the issue of judicial accountability, recognizing the need for checks and balances to maintain the integrity of the judiciary. This commitment is evident in various constitutional provisions:

Article 124(4):

Article 124(4) of the Constitution empowers Parliament to enact laws regulating the removal of judges of the Supreme Court on grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity. This constitutional provision highlights the acknowledgment that judges, like any public servants, should be subject to mechanisms ensuring accountability.

Article 218:

Article 218 complements this by ensuring that the conduct of a judge of a High Court is not questioned except through the constitutional procedures prescribed. This provision underscores the delicate balance between judicial independence and accountability, preventing unwarranted interference while promoting adherence to ethical standards.

Challenges and Concerns:

The journey towards achieving robust judicial accountability in India is not without its challenges. The delicate balance between judicial independence and accountability is a constant source of debate. Critics argue that accountability mechanisms often lack transparency, and the procedures for addressing complaints against judges can be perceived as cumbersome and time-consuming.

Judicial Accountability Commission:

The establishment of a Judicial Accountability Commission, as envisioned in the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, could potentially address some of the concerns surrounding accountability. However the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010, did not become law in its entirety. The bill aimed to establish clear judicial standards, provide a robust mechanism for investigating complaints against judges, and propose the creation of a National Judicial Oversight Committee to oversee the functioning of the judiciary. However, it faced various challenges and debates, and its passage was delayed. A proposed Judicial Accountability Commission could serve as an independent body responsible for investigating complaints against judges. This institution, if established, would play a pivotal role in ensuring that accountability is not just a theoretical concept but a practical and effective aspect of judicial functioning.


In the evolving landscape of India’s legal system, the concept of judicial accountability remains a dynamic and evolving aspect. The constitutional provisions, legislative endeavours, and ongoing discussions about the establishment of a Judicial Accountability Commission collectively underscore the commitment to ensuring that judges are held accountable for their actions. Striking the right balance between accountability and judicial independence is crucial for upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law in the Indian legal system. As the nation progresses, the journey towards achieving greater transparency and accountability in the judiciary is an ongoing and essential endeavour.

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