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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF JUDGES IN INDIA

INTRODUCTION

The essential rules that direct judges’ choices are those of judicial ethics. It includes or has to do with a judge’s moral behaviour, conduct, motivation, or character; what is right or fitting for them. It is also possible to define judicial ethics as principles that, independent of space or time, pertain to the administration of justice and are within the purview of the judiciary. An appointed authority is evaluated based on the decisions he makes as well as his character, and the quantitative standard of that character is flawless respectability, which is evident plainly in his personal life as well. That is the higher standard of institutional honesty that people typically have in such high workplaces.[1]In order to prevent the actual foundation of the framework from being undermined, any departure from the ideal rules and upsides of discipline and restrained directly with respect to the legal officials will need to be recognized honestly.

They are in possession of the citizens of India’s amazing trust. Judges are guided by a code of professional ethics in how they should contribute to a reliable and trustworthy judicial system. According to the Constitution, citizens must be persuaded that their liberties and rights will be upheld because the court upholds the law.[2]A judge must constantly conduct himself with respect and carry out his duties to the highest standards if he is to uphold the integrity of his office. Public trust increases when those who bring matters to court feel that the judge will act morally in carrying out his duties.

EVOLUTION OF ETHICS IN THE INDIAN JUDICIARY

There are three fundamental papers that serve as a guide for judges to follow and are necessary for an independent, robust, and respected judiciary, as well as the impartial administration of justice. It will be necessary to clarify the aims of the three documents in order to comprehend them.

Restatement of Values of Judicial Life (1999)

The Supreme Court of India adopted a Charter called the Restatement of Values of Judicial Life on 7th May 1997. It is a repetition of Judges’ previously observed and commonly accepted rules, principles, and customs. The Indian judiciary accepted and adopted the restatement during the Chief Justices’ Conference in 1999. All of the country’s High Courts have followed suit.[3]

The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct

The Round Table Meeting of Chief Justices met in The Hague updated and approved these Draft Principles of Judicial Conduct notwithstanding the fact that they were created by common law judges. These values have as their foundation the “Restatement of Judicial Values.” Both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirms that everyone has the right to a fair and equal hearing before a tribunal that is independent and impartial in determining rights and obligations, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees that everyone is treated equally before the law, regard it as fundamental that everyone has this right.[4]Their primary goals are to create an ethical framework for judges and to set judicial conduct regulations. These guidelines also assist in educating the public, policymakers, and attorneys on the court’s responsibilities. Additionally, they are meant to convey the idea that strict adherence to these norms and high expectations are placed on judicial behaviour. The fundamental values of independence, impartiality, integrity, propriety, equality, competence and dedication & application are embodied in the Bangalore Principles.[5]

According to the Preamble of the Principles of Judicial Conduct, among other things, the principles are intended to provide standards for judges’ ethical behaviour. They’re designed to give judges guidance and give the judiciary a framework for policing how judges behave. They are also intended to enhance the public’s understanding of the judiciary among lawyers, representatives of the executive and legislative branches, and the general public.

The Oath of Judges

The judges of the high courts and the supreme court of India are likewise limited by the pledge they take from schedule iii of our constitution. The pledge compactly sums up central legal obligations in the accompanying words. “That I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge and judgment perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or ill will and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws.”[6]

SIGNIFICANT JUDGEMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA RELATING TO ETHICS OF JUDGES.

As the Supreme Court stated in Tarak Singh v. Jyoti Basu[7]: “integrity is the characteristic of judicial discipline separate from others.” To quote:

“Integrity is the hallmark of judicial discipline, apart from others. It is high time the judiciary took the utmost care to see that the temple of justice does not crack from inside, which will lead to a catastrophe in the judicial-delivery system resulting in the failure of public confidence in the system. It must be remembered that woodpeckers inside pose a larger threat than the storm outside.”

High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan v. Ramesh Chand Paliwal[8]: Judges have been referred to as hermits, but with the qualification that they must conduct and live in the manner of hermits who have, by penance, abandoned all desire and aspiration. Instead of generating heat, their aim is to provide light.[9]

High Court of Judicature at Bombay vs. Uday Singh[10]:

“The court system’s discipline must be maintained at all times. The officer’s trustworthiness, honesty, integrity, and character all play a role in the judgment’s acceptability. Lack of integrity and character of the Judicial Officer affects or shakes the faith of the litigating public.”

CONCLUSION

The judiciary’s greatest asset is the public’s trust in it. Faith, assurance, and acceptability cannot simply be demanded; they must be earned. Only by developing an innate sense of morals and ethics is this feasible. Given this, every judge must act to the highest ethical standards. They must be conscientious, conscientious, courteous, understanding, punctual, just, impartial, fearless of public attention, unmoved by public acclaim, and unaffected by private, political, or factional influences. They must treat their position as a public trust, administer justice in accordance with the law, and avoid allowing other issues pertaining to their personal interests to obstruct the prompt and proper performance of their judicial duties. Additionally, they shouldn’t utilize their position to advance their popularity or professional goals.

Based on how a judge conducts himself or herself in both his or her public and private life, the office of a judge and the respect for his or her decisions are safeguarded and earned reputation. In today’s culture, upholding the highest standards of judicial ethics is crucial because, even if a judge possesses the highest ethical standards, they may unintentionally spark controversy or harm their reputation due to a lack of understanding of judicial ethics. A judge must therefore keep up with both evolving legal standards and judicial ethics.

Author(s) Name: P.Rohit (Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam)

References:

[1]B Gayathri, ‘JUDICIAL ETHICS’ (districtse                   courts,2018)https://districts.ecourts.gov.in/sites/default/files/Judicial%20Ethics%20%20-%20by%20Ms%20B%20Gayathri.pdf accessed 7 JULY 2022.

[2]Bob Kelly, ‘The Importance of Professional Ethics for a Judge’ (Chron, 2015) https://work.chron.com/code-conduct-united-states-judges-13830.html accessed  10 November 2021.

[3]MuneebRashid Malik, ‘Judicial ethics: An Indian perspective’ (The daily guardian, 17 November 2020) https://thedailyguardian.com/judicial-ethics-an-indian-perspective/ accessed 6July 2022.

[4]YK Sabarwal, ‘CANONS OF JUDICIAL ETHICS, M C SETALVAD MEMORIAL LECTURE’ (Tnsja, 2005) http://www.tnsja.tn.gov.in/article/Cannons%20of%20Jud%20Ethics.pdf\accessed 5 July 2022.

[5]Ibid.

[6]RC Lahoti, ‘Canons of Judicial Ethics First MC Setalvad Memorial Lecture’ (High court of Punjab and Haryana, 22 February, 2005.) <https://highcourtchd.gov.in/sub_pages/left_menu/publish/articles/articles_pdf/canons.pdf> accessed 4 July 2022.

[7]Tarak Singh vs. Jyoti Basu, (2005)1 SCC 201,http://hpsja.nic.in/ .

[8]High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan vs. Ramesh Chand Paliwal, (1998) 2 SCC 72,http://hpsja.nic.in/ .

[9]Ibid.

[10]High Court of Judicature at Bombay vs. Uday Singh, (1997) 5 SCC 129,http://hpsja.nic.in/ .