CHURUMURI POLL: How corrupt is the judiciary?

Corruption in the judiciary is a subject that no one in India talks about openly, not out of blinding respect for the integrity of the men in black robes but out of fear of being hauled up for contempt. But like a jack in the box, the issue jumps into the open every now and then. It did so last weekend when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was clearly quoted as saying that “apart from pendency and delayed justice, corruption is another challenge we face both in government and the judiciary.”

The chief justice of the Supreme Court, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan denied that the PM had alleged corruption. “The prime minister has not said anything about corruption in judiciary…. He has talked about corruption cases investigated by the CBI… CBI cases are not against the judiciary.” Although a resolution of SC judges makes it mandatory for all judges of the higher judiciary to regularly declare their assets at the time of elevation, Justice Balakrishnan said judges submit in sealed covers details of their assets.

Questions: What is your perception of the judiciary? On a scale of one to ten (one being most corrupt, ten being most clean), where would you place the judiciary? Is the judiciary “totally corruption-free”, as law minister H.R. Bharadwaj claims: yes or no? Is it as corrupt as the legisature and executive, or more/less corrupt than the legislature and executive? Can justice be bought from your own experience and from what you read, see and hear? Are politicians intentionally trying to pull down the judiciary in the eyes of the people? Should judges declare their assets and liabilities, or will it become another tamasha?

(All comments will be moderated. Pinpoint responses only. Do not name specific courts, judges or cases in your responses.)