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Title: Independence and accountability of the Indian higher judiciary
Author: Sengupta, Arghya
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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There is currently no satisfactory account of how judges of the Supreme Court of India and High Courts in the states are appointed, transferred, impeached or employed postretirement. For a higher judiciary commanding immense public attention, enjoying wide constitutional powers of judicial review, this is a conspicuous gulf in academic literature. This thesis intends to bridge this gulf by providing such an account. Part I extracts the Constituent Assembly Debates pertaining to these four facets of judicial functioning, describes key developments over time and analyses the extant processes in operation today. On this basis it makes three arguments: first, appointments to the higher judiciary and transfer of judges between High Courts follow processes that are indefensible as a matter of constitutional law; second, impeachment operates in an excessively slow and inefficacious manner; third, the pervasiveness of post-retirement employment of judges in government-appointed positions demonstrates inadequate attention to institutional design. Most crucially, each of these four aspects gives rise to significant concerns pertaining to judicial independence, accountability or both. This is not a peculiarly Indian problem— in several countries, the values of judicial independence and accountability have been deemed to be in tension, often irreconcilably. Part II tackles this widely articulated tension by providing a conceptual framework to understand these concepts. Its main argument is that both judicial independence and accountability are necessary for 'an effective judiciary'. Whether indeed the processes governing the four selected facets of judicial functioning in India lead to an effective judiciary is assessed in Part III. Where they are found lacking, appropriate reform is suggested. Such reform is intended to ensure that the selected processes operate in a manner that is justifiable in terms of judicial independence and accountability in principle and is efficacious in practice.
Supervisor: Craig, Paul P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Comparative Law ; Constitutional & administrative law ; judicial independence ; judicial accountability ; India ; constitutional law ; judicial appointments ; appointment of judges ; Supreme Court of India ; separation of powers ; checks and balances