"  Oath of a Judge _  analysed " 

Speech Sub-titles:

INTRODUCT ION
       
MOTILAL  SETALVAD      
TODAY’S TOPIC      
CANONS
Versus PRINCIPLES  

   "JUDICIAL ETHICS A definition"    
"
ATTEMPTED CODIFICATION OF CANONS OF JUDICIAL ETHICS"

   "Things necessary to be continually had in remembrance"     
"
THE CONCEPT OF JUDGESHIP IN GITA"

 

               
Hon’ble Shri R.C. Lahoti,
 
Chief Justice of India  
First M.C. Setalvad Memorial Lecture
 
Tuesday, 22nd Februa ry, 2005.     
at The Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road,  New Delhi . India.

[ for exact contents of Lecture visit official web site of Supreme Court of India http://www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in/judges_speech]

Speech Sub-titles:

 "THREE DOCUMENTS :     
(i) Restatement of Values of Judicial Life (1999)     
                                                                       (ii) The Bangalore Draft Principles  
 
(iii) The oath or affirmation by Judge
"

    "Oath of a Judge _  analysed "     "Independence and Impartiality"         
"
Four Qualities in a Judge" 

 "Conduct of Judge in private"     "Patience and Tolerance" 
"Rational Utilisation of  Time"       "EPILOGUE"

"  Oath of a Judge _  analysed " 

Oath of a Judge _  Analysed  

Every word and expression employed in the oath of a judge is potent with a message.  The message has to be demystified by reading between the lines and looking beyond what meets the eyes. 

An option to swear in the name of God or to make a solemn affirmation is suggestive of secular character of the oath.

A judge must bear not only faith but ‘true faith’ and ‘allegiance’ to the Constitution of India.  The oath demands of a judge not only belief in constitutional principles but a loyalty and a devotion akin to complete surrender to the constitutional beliefs. Why ?  

“Under our constitutional scheme, the judiciary has been assigned the onerous task of safeguarding the fundamental rights of our citizens and of upholding the rule of law.  Since the Courts are entrusted the duty to uphold the Constitution and the laws, it very often comes in conflict with the State when it tries to enforce its orders by exacting obedience from recalcitrant or indifferent State agencies.  Therefore, the need for an independent and impartial judiciary manned by persons of sterling quality and character, undaunting courage and determination and resolute impartiality and independence who would dispense justice without fear or favour, ill-will or affection.  Justice without fear or favour, ill-will or affection, is the cardinal creed of our Constitution and a solemn assurance of every Judge to the people of this great country ……. an independent and impartial judiciary is the most essential characteristic of a free society.[17]“ The arch of the Constitution of India pregnant from its Preamble, Chapter III (Fundamental Rights)  and Chapter IV (Directive Principles) is to establish an egalitarian social order guaranteeing fundamental freedoms and to secure justice __      social, economic and political  __ to every citizen through rule of law.  Existing social inequalities need to be removed and equality in fact is accorded to all people irrespective of caste, creed, sex, religion or region subject to protective discrimination only through rule of law.  The Judge cannot retain his earlier passive judicial role when he administers  the law under the Constitution to give effect to the constitutional ideals.  The extraordinary complexity of modern litigation requires him not merely to declare the rights to citizens but also to mould the relief warranted under given facts and circumstances and often command the executive and other agencies to enforce and give effect to the order, writ or direction or prohibit them to do unconstitutional acts.   In this ongoing complex of adjudicatory process, the role of the Judge is not merely to interpret the law but also to lay new norms of law and to mould the law to suit the changing social and economic scenario to make the ideals enshrined in the Constitution meaningful and a reality.[18] 

The sovereignty and integrity of India has to be upheld.  Constitution itself would cease to exist, if, God forbid, the sovereignty and integrity of India were lost.  

The duties associated with the Office of a judge are too sacrosanct and hence demand the judicial functioning  with ‘the best of ability, knowledge and judgment’ of the judges. It is not enough to be a law graduate or to have put in a number of years of practice or to have gained experience by serving as a judicial  officer for a specified number of years. Their ability and knowledge associated with the clarity of purpose and methods which the judges display enables the judicial system to perform to its optimum efficiency.  The role of the judge obligates him to continue to invest in up-dating his knowledge of law and skills of justice dispensation.  The holder of the Office if not able and knowledgeable would not have the confidence to function, much less with independence.  It is said :

Strange, how much you’ve got to know;

Before you know, how little you know.[19]

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[16] S.P. Gupta  v.  Union of India, 1981 Supp. SCC 87, para 27.

[17]  S.C. Advocates-on-Record Association & Ors.   v.  Union of India, (1993) 4 SCC 441, para 273, per Ahmadi, J.. 

[18]  C. Ravichandran Iyer  v.  Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee & Ors.,  (1995)  5 SCC 457, para 41, per K. Ramaswamy, J.

[19] Anonymous

[20] University of New Brunswick Law Journal, Vol. 45, 1999, p.81.