Assets declaration law will also protect judges from allegations: Moily

CHENNAI: The proposed legislation to provide for declaration of assets by judges would also have provisions to protect the judiciary from frivolous  charges, Union law minister M Veerappa Moily said on Sunday.

“As the judiciary cannot be treated on a par with the political executive or other institutions, the legislation will

protect judges from vexatious allegations,” he told reporters here. The law minister said the judiciary was not averse to the idea of declaring assets. As one of the pillars of democracy, its independence would have to be acknowledged, he added.

The President had asked the Centre to prepare a roadmap for disposal of pending cases, he said, adding that the government had held talks with various stakeholders. A final consultation with jurists, chief justices and others would be held in Bhopal on August 22 and 23, after which the road map for judicial reforms would be out and notified by September 30, he said.

On chief minister Karunanidhi’s the demand for allowing the use of Tamil as the language of the Madras High Court, he said such a representation had come from many states.

Earlier, inaugurating a Lok Adalat for cheque dishonour cases, Moily said the Centre proposed to enact a law to prevent filing of vexatious litigation to help the courts manage their time more effectively.

While the overburdened judiciary was struggling to dispose of pending cases, PILs were being filed in “an irresponsible

manner” without any cause of action in different courts. Such frivolous petitions should be controlled, he added.

He said courts could have a second shift and retired judges of sound health, capacity and known integrity could be deployed to dispose of more cases. As the government was a party in 58% of the cases, the law ministry would soon write to chief ministers on disposing of pending cases.

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Moily said there was a need to amend Sec 155(4) of the Evidence Act, which allows a man accused of rape to impeach the character of the prosecutrix. “This is irrelevant, because the woman has every right to refuse to submit to intercourse against her will,” he said.

In his address, Madras High Court chief justice HL Gokhale said the message of the Lok Adalat system was that cases should be settled in the best way possible. However, judges should not consider it a substitute to regular disposal of cases.

Earlier, Justice S J Mukhopadhaya said about 90,000 cheque dishonour cases were pending in various courts in Chennai, of which 15,000 cases were taken up for settlement in the mega Lok Adalat. Litigants in over 6,400 cases came forward for mutual settlement even before its formal inauguration.

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