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The Great Indian Judiciary (Part II)

- Vishal Kumar Singh

Advocate, Patna High Court

In 1977, when Janta Party came to the power, Mr. Shanti Bhushan was appointed as the Law Minister and at that point of time Former CJI Ganjendragadhkar was the Chairperson of the Law Commission of India. If we believe the stories of the legal corridors of that era, J. Gajendragadhkar was worried about his continuation as the Chairperson of the Law Commission. Mr. Bhushan has mentioned this in his autobiography that j. Gajendragadhkar requested him severally to not to terminate his Chairmanship of the Law Commission of India. This brings us to our next topic that is related to the post retirement benefits associated with the Judiciary.

In the USA, Judges of the Federal Court are appointed for the life term, which means that a Judge shall remain at that post for his/her entire life once he/she is appointed while in India there is a retirement age of 65 years prescribed for the Judgeship of the Supreme Court and 62 years for the High Courts. Also, as per the recommendations of the 72nd Law Commission Report no Permanent Judge of the High Court can practice in the High Court jurisdiction where he had been a Judge and same is the condition with the Supreme Court Judges. Now, this is where the independence of Judiciary seems to be in a state of excessive governmental pressure, when a Judge starts delivering judgments in favour of the Government in lieu of assurance of the better employment opportunities post retirement. We have seen in past that how all the alternate judicial forums have been converted into retiring restrooms for the retired members of the judiciary. Generally, the retired Judges are appointed as the Chairpersons of Tribunals or Commissions.

This entire package/offer associated with the higher judiciary has somehow tended to affect the judgments delivered by the Hon’ble Judges prior to their retirements. And even if not, the general perception drawn in the minds of public is of the opinion that a particular Judge favoured a particular state/ central government in order to secure his/her retirement berth.

In December, 2019 P. Wilson- a Senior Advocate and Rajya Sabha Member from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha with a proposal to increase the retirement age of Judges of the High Court from 62 years to 65 years. The Statement of Objects and Purposes of the proposed Bill lays down emphasis on the concern that in the year 2018, 25 retired Chief Justices and Judges of various High Courts were designated as Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court and similarly, in the year 2016, 26 such retired Chief Justices and Judges of1he High Court were designated as Senior Advocates by the Supreme Court. This means that a person who has been designated as a senior advocate just two or three years prior to his judgeship never actually got the pleasure to profess his/her senior advocacy in the Court of Law.

(to be continued…)

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