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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Self-Regulation Needed For Judiciary, Media: Ex-CJI

Self-regulation is required to safeguard the independence of judiciary as well as the freedom of press else it would be eroded by outside regulation, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma said today.He warned that if the judiciary and media do not practise self-regulation, then outside agencies will try to regulate their functioning.Justice Verma was speaking at the centenary of former Supreme Court Judge H R Khanna, who on April 28, 1976, had delivered his lone dissent in the habeas corpus case during the Emergency. 
The four other judges had decided in favour of the government that the petitions were not maintainable.At a lecture on the topic 'Independent Judiciary and Responsible Media -- the twin pillars of democracy', Justice Verma said growing demand for law on judicial accountability was "not a happy augury".

"The current growing demand for legislation to enforce judicial accountability is not a happy augury when examples are abound of sterling qualities of judicial independence without any legislation in the past."It is time for introspection by the judiciary, which is the custodian of the rule of law," Justice Verma said, while referring to the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill.

He said the judiciary should guard itself against eternal infirmities and "self-inflicted mortal wounds"."Eternal vigilance to guard against any latest internal danger is necessary, lest we suffer from self-inflicted mortal wounds," Justice Verma said recalling the contribution of Justice Khanna, who received international accolade for his historic dissent.

The New York Times on April 30, 1976, came out with an editorial saying "If India ever finds its way back to the freedom and democracy that were proud hallmarks of its first eighteen years as an independent nation, someone will surely erect a monument to Justice H R Khanna of the Supreme Court".Regarding the freedom of the press, Justice Verma said that the right and duties are correlative and if the media wants to enjoy the right of the freedom of press it has to perform certain duties like practising self-restrain.

"Practice of self-restrain in the performance of its role by the media has to confirm to the constitutional purpose of serving public good," Justice Verma said, while referring to the ongoing debate in the Supreme Court regarding media guidelines.