Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Home Opinions Objection, Milord! India should have a Judicial Disclosure Policy

Objection, Milord! India should have a Judicial Disclosure Policy

Earllier this week, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) started by an Englishwoman Crystal Rogers, filed a plea against the website IndiaFacts in the Supreme Court for insinuating the bias on account of the faith of a judge in her judgment banning Jallikattu.

The relevant article (read it here) also talks about the potential conflict of interest that another judge may have in accepting a prestigious award from PETA while delivering a verdict favouring the organisation’s petition (for banning Jallikattu).

The move by the NGO can be argued as an attack on free speech, and unfortunately, the court has accepted the plea. It also raises questions over why IndiaFacts in particular was chosen even though comments against the judiciary and protests against the Jallikattu verdict came from various quarters.

However, this article will like to focus on other aspect that needs attention in wake of this controversy.

Regardless of the merit of the above plea by the NGO, this issue, at a minimum, highlights the need for a proper disclosure policy in the judiciary while pronouncing a constitutional judgment. It is true that a judge can always recuse himself/herself if he/she feels any conflict of interest there. However, this may not be enough in the changing times.

As an analogy, I present the case of the economists who disseminate their scholarly research in the most prestigious American Economic Association journals. They have to abide by a disclosure policy that explicitly states:

Each author should disclose any paid or unpaid positions as officer, director, or board member of relevant non-profit organizations or profit-making entities. A “relevant” organization is one whose policy positions, goals, or financial interests relate to the article.

This AEA disclosure policy demonstrates the possible conflict of interest an economist may have, apart from pecuniary benefits, from non-pecuniary motives such as unpaid positions in a non-profit organisation. AEA correctly recognises the potential human frailty for position, prestige and ideology over their professional understanding, and decides to go for transparency through this disclosure policy to prohibit any kind of malpractice.

Checks and balances are required in every profession. A proper account of checks and balances is healthy for the particular profession, for it inculcates a sense of responsibility for the professionals whose sincerity is also reciprocated by the society through offering respect to the profession.

Judges are professionals too who offer their well-thought out opinions regarding ethics. This is why it will definitely serve positively toward augmenting responsibility of the justice profession and respect for the judges if a proper disclosure policy is pursued.

Judges’ opinions encompass multiple dimension of life, much more than their counterparts in any other profession such as that of an economist. By insinuating an economist’s motives one may simply state an opinion; however, a similar insinuation about a judge means a Contempt of court, a punishable offence. Therefore, the judges are the proverbial Caesar’s wife who must be above suspicion.

In India, judgments often deal with religious groups and religious ideas. This disclosure policy, for that very reason, should not be restricted by declaration of pecuniary benefits alone but should also be explicit about declaration of Faith of the judge to which ethics is closely related. Notably the diversity of ethics among different religious groups is well-documented.

While a secular State that abides by a Uniform Civil Code, say France, can forgo this issue of personal faith by banning personal identity from the public sphere; it is considerably different in case of India. We have seen how a Supreme Court judge refused to attend an event due to his religious beliefs.

The Indian constitution recognises multiple dimensions of ethics and allows India people to retain their personal ethics — defined by religion — in civil and personal matters: Hindus, Muslims and Christian have their own separate personal laws. If we acknowledge this diversity of ethics, does it not automatically imply that a judge needs to state his faith before offering her professional opinion regarding practise of other faiths? Transparency is forever the potent solution to possible corruption.

Moreover, with the rise of the public interest litigations, the judiciary is committed to societal growth. “It is evident that some instances require courts to draw a balance between the competing interests of different sections, each of whom may articulate their claims as those grounded in public interest”, says Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, then Chief Justice of India.

The idea of this balance again requires a transparency regarding faith of the judges. For example, if the court is trying to strike a fine balance between the women seeking equality regarding entry to the Sabarimala temple against the traditional Hindus who run the temple or who are ready to wait regarding entry in that temple, it makes sense to upfront state the faith of the judge concerned.

Can we hope for this judicial reform, milord?

  Support Us  

Whether NDTV or 'The Wire', they never have to worry about funds. In name of saving democracy, they get money from various sources. We need your support to fight them. Please contribute whatever you can afford

Kausik Gangopadhyay
Economist by training; humanist in yearning. Interested in Dharma, Culture & Civilisation.

Related Articles

Trending now

Watch: Moment when firing broke out and an eyewitness who narrates exactly what happened

The horrific violence that broke out during Durga Visarjan in Munger, Bihar last night has left people wondering as to what transpired that led to the death of an 18-year old boy and left many injured

ABP quotes uncle of murderer Tauseef to whitewash the religious angle in the heinous murder of Nikita Tomar

Javed Ahmed out rightly denied any angle of religious conversion in the Nikita Tomar murder and said that he respected all religions.

Hansa Research says it has no business dealings with Republic TV, Mumbai Police’s leak to Economic Times falls flat

Hansa Research has categorically denied claims made by Mumbai Police which were quoted in a report in The Economic Times.

Bollywood: Actress Malvi Malhotra stabbed for rejecting marriage proposal of Facebook friend

Malvi Malhotra was returning home from a coffee shop when the accused said that he wanted to speak to her

India-US 2+2 talks: Geo-spatial defence pact signed, US extends its support to India amidst border aggression from China

The BECA pact will arm India with sensitive satellite and sensor data and enable it to keep a closer watch on the Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean.

Recently Popular

Editors Guild issues a shameful statement tacitly condoning witch-hunt against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami by Mumbai Police: Details

After almost two weeks of the witch-hunt launched by Mumbai Police against Republic TV and Arnab Goswami, the Editors Guild has finally issued a statement

Faridabad: A month after college student Nikita files molestation complaint against Taufeeq, he shoots her dead

As per reports, the accused initially wanted to abduct the victim but killed her when she resisted him.

Nikita Tomar murder: Taufeeq alias Sajid introduced himself as Rahul, was pressurising her to embrace Islam

On Monday, 21-year-old Nikita Tomar was shot to death in broad daylight outside the Aggarwal college in Ballabgarh, Faridabad

YouTuber Lakshay Chaudhary levels serious allegations of fraud against Gaurav Wasan of Swad Official whose video on ‘Baba ka Dhaba’ had gone viral

Gaurav Wasan of Swad Official had uploaded a video about the financial difficulties faced by the elderly couple of 'Baba ka Dhaba'.

18-year-old dead as police open fire at Durga Puja Visarjan procession in Munger, Bihar: Here is everything you need to know

An 18-year-old youth has reportedly been killed and several others injured in the firing that took place on the intervening night of Monday and Tuesday in Munger, Bihar

Kerala: Photographer Dia John depicts Hindu deity as smoking weed, deletes picture after outrage

Kochi-based Mukkootil Bhagavathy temple had filed a complaint against Dia John for hurting Hindu religious sentiments
- Advertisement -

Watch: Moment when firing broke out and an eyewitness who narrates exactly what happened

The horrific violence that broke out during Durga Visarjan in Munger, Bihar last night has left people wondering as to what transpired that led to the death of an 18-year old boy and left many injured

ABP quotes uncle of murderer Tauseef to whitewash the religious angle in the heinous murder of Nikita Tomar

Javed Ahmed out rightly denied any angle of religious conversion in the Nikita Tomar murder and said that he respected all religions.

Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions receives show cause notice for dumping garbage, bio-medical waste used during a film shoot in Goa on roadside

Goan activists threatened of taking Dharma Productions and Karan johar to court for breaking the laws of the land.

Weeks after being targeted by opposition parties and media for allegedly favouring BJP, Ankhi Das quits Facebook

Ankhi Das was mired in controversy lately after a WSJ article accused Facebook India of showing bias towards BJP.

Nikita Tomar murder: Main accused Tauseef belongs to a family of influential Congress politicians from Nuh in Haryana

The prime accused Tauseef's grandfather, uncles and cousin brothers are all infuential Congress politicians from Haryana's Nuh

While Munger video shows devotees protecting Maa Durga’s Murti in silence as the police unleashed blows, SP claims they shot their own

Violence erupted in Bihar’s Munger as police resorted to brute force against devotees participating in Durga Visarjan.

Waqar Zaka of Pakistani Roadies fame calls for ‘Digital Jihad’ against President of France

Waqar Zaka of Pakistani Roadies fame called for Digital Jihad against French President Emmanuel Macron.

‘Unacceptable’, ‘highway robbery’: Opposition suffers meltdown after central government makes way for any Indian to buy land in J&K

Following the passage of the new land law, opposition parties, as expected, are up in arms against the central government.

Pakistan’s National Assembly passes resolution to bring back its envoy from France, but there’s a catch

Currently, there is no Pakistani envoy in France as the last envoy was transferred to China three months back. The post has been lying vacant since then.

Connect with us

245,563FansLike
469,673FollowersFollow
19,400SubscribersSubscribe