Discuss the relevance of accountability of Judiciary to the society, while remaining conscious of the constitutional organisation of the government.

The judiciary is the guardian of the constitution, guarantor of the fundamental rights of citizens and ‘sentinel on qui vive’ (watchful guardian) on two other branches of the government.

Given this significant role, Independent and Impartial judiciary is sine qua non.

Constitutional organisation:

  1. Article 124 and 214 – Judges appointed by the President upon recommendation of collegium system, introduced in second judges case.
  2. Independent appointment process.
  3. Independence in terms of
  • Security of tenure.
  • Service condition cannot be unfavourably altered.
  • Can only be removed by both houses of parliament.
  • Salary charged on consolidated fund of India.

Accountability to society:

  1. Through impeachment process by people’s elected representative.
    • Due to political nature of process, it is not an effective mechanism.
    • No judge is impeached till date.
  2. Reinstatement of values.
    • Practice aloofness from society.
    • No conduct to raise question on its impartiality.
  3. Public criticism.
    • Most effective tool to keep a watch.
    • Healthy discussions on judicial decisions and conduct of judges are the key to securing the legitimacy.
    • Justice Krishna Iyer – Our conduct must be the sole vindication of judiciary’s legitimacy and not curbing public check on it.

Thus, though non-elected, given its constitutional significance, public accountability is the key to healthy judicial system.

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