According to Freedom House 2013, judges have in recent years initiated several contempt-of-court cases against activists and journalists, raising questions about their misuse of the laws to intimidate those who expose the behaviour of corrupt judges or question verdicts. According to the Bertelsmann Foundation 2012, the courts remain institutionally autonomous, despite pressure from the executive, which interferes with judicial nominations and transfers politically unpopular judges.
In 2012, IBN Live reported that the Central Bureau of Investigation was ordered to probe former customs tribunal judge Gowri Shankar, after the U.S. government alerted the Indian ambassador of five cases of improper payments between Indian officials and U.S. firms in 2008-2009. Shankar allegedly accepted USD 500,000 from the American firm, Pride Foramer, to overturn a customs commissioner’s 2001 order where Pride Foramer was ordered to pay a penalty plus interests for understating the value of an imported oil rig. The investigation is still on-going.
Recently, the government has taken action to reprimand corrupt judicial officers and rhetoric condemning such behaviour gives the impression that there is a real concern and desire to squash judicial corruption within the government. Justice Soumitra Sen, a High Court judge, allegedly received INR 4.2 million as a court-appointed receiver and deposited the amount in his personal account. According to a September 2011 article by BBC News, the Upper House of Parliament had voted to impeach Sen with the Lower House of Parliament scheduled to vote on the impeachment. However, Sen resigned from his position before the impeachment vote. According to the same article, if the Lower House had voted against Sen, he would have become the first senior judge to be impeached in India.