New Delhi: Concerned over judiciary's image coming under a cloud in the wake of corruption charges, Chief Justice S H Kapadia on Friday said there was a need for ‘clean man in black robe’ and asked the political class not to protect corrupt judges.

The CJI said judges should maintain self restraint and high ranking judges should not interfere in the administrative work of court lower to it.

"Internal interference from a high ranking Judge which, if resisted, could lead the lower ranking Judge being transferred or being denied promotion also needs to be deprecated. Similarly, political protection should not be given to corrupt Judges," Kapadia said at the fifth M C Setalvad memorial lecture.

The CJI's remarks assume significance as the issue of corruption allegedly involving sitting judges PD Dinakaran and Soumitra Sen, who are facing impeachment proceedings in Parliament, were raised by other speakers.

Senior advocates Anil Divan and PP Rao voiced serious concerns over judges being involved in corruption. Kapadia said the judges should not accept any type of patronage and stick to judicial norms.

The CJI said he has avoided socialisation and even preferred not take the membership of any golf clubs as it would have left him mingling with advocates, politicians etc giving a negative impression to the people.

Kapadia insisted that there should be a fair criticism of judgements and irresponsible and illegitimate criticism should be avoided.

‘Judges should not sit as super legislature’

Chief Justice S H Kapadia cautioned judges not to overtake the functions of the legislature. He said, “We must refuse to sit as a super-legislature to weigh the wisdom of legislation. We must remember that our Constitution recognises separation of powers and that the legislatures and the government can be made accountable for their legislation and actions by the electorate if they err."

He added, "In many PILs, the courts freely decree rule of conduct for government and public authorities who are akin to legislation. Such exercises have little judicial function in them."

Kapadia said that the function of courts is to review the acts of the legislature and not to substitute their own policies on the society or the legislature.

"The Judges of the Supreme Court of India should revisit the original constitutional proposition that Courts do not substitute their social and economic beliefs for the judgment of legislative bodies, who are elected to enact laws. We are not concerned with the wisdom, need or appropriateness of the legislation," he said.

He said that courts should be circumspect in understanding the thin line between law and governance while justifying their interference in policy matters.

"Its (courts) justification is that the other branches of government have failed or are indifferent to the solution of the problem. In such matters, I am of the opinion that the courts should be circumspect in understanding the thin line between law and governance,” he added.

JPN/Agencies