JUDICIAL ETHICS A definition  

Speech Sub-titles:


   "JUDICIAL ETHICS A definition"    

   "Things necessary to be continually had in remembrance"     


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:

(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"


Judicial ethics is an expression which defies definition.  In the literature, wherever there is a reference to judicial ethics, mostly it is not defined but attempted to be conceptualized.  According to Mr. Justice Thomas of the Supreme Court of Queensland, there are two key issues that must be addressed : (i)        the identification of standard to which members of the judiciary must be held; and (ii) a mechanism, formal or informal, to ensure that these standards are adhered to.  A reference to various dictionaries would enable framing of a definition, if it must be framed.  Simply put, it can be said that judicial ethics are the basic principles of right action of the judges.  It consists of or relates to moral action, conduct, motive or character of judges; what is right or befitting for them.  It can also be said that judicial ethics consist of such values as belong to the realm of judiciary without regard to the time or place and are referable to justice dispensation.  

Need for

In all democratic constitutions, or even those societies which are not necessarily democratic or not governed by any constitution, the need for competent, independent and impartial judiciary as an institution has been recognized and accepted.  It will not be an exaggeration to say that in modern times the availability of such judiciary is synonymous with the existence of civilization in society.  There are constitutional rights, statutory rights, human rights and natural rights which need to be protected and implemented.  Such protection and implementation depends on the proper administration of justice which in its turn depends on the existence and availability of an independent judiciary.  Courts of Law are essential to act and assume their role as guardians of the Rule of Law and a means of assuring good governance.  Though it can be said that source of judicial power is the law but, in reality, the effective exercise of judicial power originates from two sources.  Externally, the source is the public acceptance of the authority of the judiciary.  Internally and more importantly, the source is the integrity of the judiciary.  The very existence of justice-delivery system depends on the judges who, for the time being, constitute the system.  The judges have to honour the judicial office which they hold as a public trust.  Their every action and their every word – spoken or written – must show and reflect correctly that they hold the office as a public trust and they are determined to strive continuously to enhance and maintain the people’s confidence in the judicial system. 

Alexander Hamilton once said ___ “The judiciary . . .  has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society, and can take no active resolution whatever.  It may truly be said to have neither Force nor Will but merely judgment…”.[8] The greatest strength of the judiciary is the faith of the people in it.  Faith, confidence and acceptability cannot be commanded; they have to be earned.  And that can be done only by developing the inner strength of morality and ethics.

[8]  E.C. GERHART, Quote It,  p.300