Lawyers say that the quality of judges is worsening, and that there is corruption in all institutions including the judiciary.

Crime corruption and chaos Tamil Nadus judicial badlands Part 3 - Blame judges too
news Judicial Drama Monday, November 02, 2015 - 17:08

This is the third and final part of the three part series. You can read part 1 here, and part 2 here.

Lawyers say that their community alone cannot be blamed for the deteriorating situation of the legal system.

“Why do you think katta panchayat (kangaroo courts) are held? Because there are no judges. There should be 75 judges at MHC, only 37 are there, out of the 37 only 26 are here in Chennai and one of them is not well at all. The NJAC case at SC had stopped an entire lot of appointments, clients are not able to get release. Why do people go to katta panchayats, because for ten years issue is not being resolved,” says NGR Prasad, a senior advocate at the Madras HC.

Lawyers further say that the quality of judges in worsening, and point to the case of Justice CS Karnan.

Angry with the way judges were bring appointed at the Madras HC, Justice CS Karnan recently threatened to mount contempt charges against Chief Justice Kaul himself, perhaps unprecedented in the judicial history of India. He also warned that he would initiate proceedings against the CJ under the SC/ST atrocities act for ‘harassing’ him. Appearing at the Supreme court for the HC Registry, advocate KK Venugopal said that Justice Karnan’s order has brought disrepute to the institution.

In January 2014, the same CS Karnan had stormed into a court hall hearing a PIL and made allegations of fraud against some judges. The SC later came down heavily on Justice Karnan, terming his conduct “indecorous” and “uncharitable”.

“Yes some lawyers are not disciplined, you can say that about judges also. Look at the Karnan issue, he has threatened contempt proceedings against the CJ, what more indiscipline you want?” asks Prasad.

“The whole quality of legal process has gone down. Lawyers have also contributed to it but so have judges. We have to look at the larger issue here,” he adds.

Justice Chandru tends to agree to some extent. “Corruption in judiciary has always been there. When Justice Bharucha observed that 20% of the higher judiciary is corrupt no one challenged him.  In my opinion that percentage would have only gone up.  I will agree to the proposition that corruption in public life had also permeated into the legal profession also and that may be one reason for the increased criminality of the Bar members,” he says, but adds that judicial corruption cannot be the sole reason.

Are there any solutions?

Meanwhile, after the Supreme Court of India stepped into the ongoing clash between lawyers and judges at the Madras High Court, there was pressure on the Bar Council of India to take action against the erring lawyers in.

Chief Justice of india HL Dattu, while hearing the case about the situation in Madras HC in September, said “[The] Madras HC judges preside in courts with fear psychosis expecting mobs to come in and attack them at anytime. It was once a traditional court that we all looked up to. Never, before has it fallen to such low levels. All because of you lawyers.”

Show-cause notices have been issued to several lawyers by the BCI, following which it is said that lawyers are lying low.

What was once a tussle between lawyers and police officers, grew into a face-off between lawyers and judges and has now divided the lawyer community itself between the state and central bar councils.

There is little hope of any effective solutions soon.  “The problems themselves are yet to be identified in a broad context.  That requires a deeper study of the sociological problems of the profession,” says Justice Chandru. However, he says that legal education sector needs a major overhaul. It is high time, he says, that steps are taken to correct the situation and entrust the monitoring and laying down of standards on legal education to a specialized body and leave the mechanism of enrolment and disciplinary action against lawyers alone to the Bar Council of India.

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