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Independence of the Supreme Court Judges

Write a brief note on the independence of the Supreme Court Judges and their position. How can a judge of the Supreme Court be removed before the expiry of his term?
The Constitution of India provides for independence of Judiciary. The aim is to ensure that the judicial system works  free from the influence of the legislature and the executive. It was believed by the framers of the Constitution that unless specific provisions were made to make the judicial system independent, the citizens could not be assured of unbiased dispensation of justice.
There are several provisions that take care of this aspect. Firstly, the President who appoints the judges of the Supreme Court has no authority to remove them from office. Even their appointment has to be approved by the President after consulting the Chief Justice of India. Further, the pay and allowances of the judges cannot be reduced to their disadvantage during their term by the Parliament and the entire expenditure on account of the pay and allowances shall be charged to the Consolidated Fund of India, rather than voted. The judges of the Supreme Court are prohibited by the Constitution from practicing in any court of law after their retirement. There are similar provisions for the High Court judges also.
Position: Many people believe that the position of the judges of the Supreme Court is in no manner inferior to that of the judges of the highest courts of law in the other countries of the world, including those in the developed countries. Their powers are wide and they enjoy freedom from any external influence, particularly in their service matters and day to day working. Supreme Court is not only the Federal Court of Indian Union but is also the guardian of the Constitution and the highest Court of Appeal. The pronouncements of the Supreme Court are binding on all the courts of the country. Further, the pronouncements made in the constitutional matters have the status of law and are binding on the Union and the State governments.
The Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts can be removed only by way of a special procedure prescribed in the Constitution, commonly called the impeachment.
As per the procedure prescribed under Article 124(4) and the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968, the process of impeachment can only be initiated if 100 Members of Lok Sabha or 50 Members of the Rajya Sabha deliver a motion addressed to the President of India, through either the Speaker of Lok Sabha or the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha. After such motion has been received in either of the Houses of the Parliament, it is required to be investigated by a Committee of three i.e. two judges of the Supreme Court and one eminent jurist. If this Committee finds the judge guilty of misbehaviour or that he suffers from incapacity, the report of the Committee is then submitted to the House in which the motion of impeachment is pending for consideration.
The Parliament then considers the motion along with the report of the Committee in detail. If the motion is passed in each of the House by the majority of the total membership of the House and the majority of not less than two-third of that House present and voting, the address is then presented before the President of India. It is only after the President of India passes an order of removal of the judge concerned that the judge is removed from his office.


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13.1 Introduction

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13.3 Initiatives after Economic Reforms

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13.6 Conclusion

13.7 Key Concepts

13.8 References and Further Reading

13.9 Activities


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