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I'm pained over Gujarat: Chief Justice of India

Press Trust of India

Posted: May 01, 2004 at 1320 hrs IST

In a stinging attack, Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare on Saturday said that the Supreme Court stepped in to protect the victims and witnesses in the post-Godhra riot cases, as there was "complete collusion" between the accused and prosecution in Gujarat.

"There was no prosecution in the riot cases at all. Therefore the Supreme Court stepped in to break the collusion between the prosecution and the accused," Justice Khare told PTI in an interview.

The concern for the victims and the witnesses came to the fore when Justice Khare, who retires on Sunday, said, "What will happen to the victims and witnesses if the prosecution and the accused collude throwing the rule of law to the wind."

He was both anguished and pained by the turn of events during the trial of the riot cases but determined to salvage the justice delivery system.

"I gave a new dimension to criminal jurisprudence as on the one hand one bench of the Supreme Court monitored the progress of prosecution in riot cases while another bench decided on the judicial side the correctness of the high court order (in acquitting the accused in Best Bakery case)," Justice Khare said.

Asked whether the judiciary is facing a serious problem of corruption, Justice Khare replied in the affirmative but refused to quantify the percentage of honest judges like one of his predecessors Justice S.P. Bharucha did. Justice Bharucha had said 80 per cent of judges were honest.

"Of course, corruption is there but mostly in subordinate judiciary. It is shaking the faith of the people in the judiciary", he admitted.

Justice Khare said, "Mostly it (corruption) is in the subordinate judiciary. The degree varies in the high courts but there is no corruption in the Supreme Court".

Referring to the recent incident of "indiscipline" shown by judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the CJI lamented that he did not have powers to deal with corrupt and undisciplined judges.

"I feel exasperated that the Chief Justice of India has no powers under the Constitution to even ask for an explanation from the deviant judges", he said seeking more powers for the head of the judiciary.

Asked if impeachment was still the only option to deal with black sheep in the higher judiciary, the CJI said, "In the coalition era it is very difficult to impeach a judge and therefore either the CJI or the collegiums of senior judges of the apex court headed by him should be given the power of superintendence over the high courts."

He said, "By two or three decisions the apex court has taken some powers of superintendence but that is more like a moral authority."

"The framers of constitution did not know that after 50 years things will collapse. Now time has come that the Chief Justice of India should be given power of superintendence over the high courts by amending the constitution," Justice Khare said explaining the difficulty with which he "procured" the resignations of tainted judges - Shameet Mukherjee and Arun Madan.

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