Chapter 20 - Relations with the judiciary

Scrutiny of judicial administration

While the judges are and must be completely independent of the legislature and the executive in performing their judicial functions, the Houses of the Parliament have a responsibility to provide for and scrutinise the conduct of the administration of the courts.

Various acts of the Parliament provide for the administration of the courts. Rules of court, made by courts under such acts of Parliament, and providing for matters of judicial administration, are subject to disallowance by either House and are scrutinised by the Senate Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances (see Chapter 15, Delegated Legislation).

Estimates of expenditure and appropriations for the federal courts are scrutinised by Senate committees and by the Senate before the appropriations are passed. Annual reports of the courts are also subject to scrutiny by Senate committees. (See Chapter 13, Financial Legislation, and Chapter 16, Committees.)

In June 1986, in a report on the annual report of the High Court, the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs asserted the principle that the constitutional independence of the Court is not affected by the accountability of the Court to Parliament in financial and administrative matters (PP 177/1986).

In its 101st report, presented in June 1995 (PP 97/1995), the Regulations and Ordinances Committee asserted its right, and that of the Senate, to scrutinise rules of court and other legislative instruments made by judicial bodies. Such instruments, like other forms of delegated legislation, are subject to disallowance by the Senate (see Chapter 15, Delegated Legislation; see also statement by the committee, SD 23/6/1997, pp 4868-70).

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