Govt brings bill in Rajya Sabha to hike pension of judges of HCs, SC

  • Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju placed the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021 in the Upper House for consideration

Livemint
Updated13 Dec 2021
Bill in Rajya Sabha to hike pension of judges of HCs, SC
Bill in Rajya Sabha to hike pension of judges of HCs, SC(ANI)

The central government on Monday introduced a bill that proposes to amend the salaries and services acts of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. Brought in Rajya Sabha, the bill is to bring clarity concerning the date of eligibility for an additional quantum of pension to a retired judge.

Union Minister for Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju placed the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021 in the Upper House for consideration.

Passed by the Lok Sabha on December 8, the bill will amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954 and the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.

While placing the bill, Rijiju said: "This is a very limited amendment, which we have brought in the said Acts and for a limited purpose. It is not going to affect in any manner the judges' salaries. It is only related to a quantum jump in the pension of retired judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts."

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, who was on the chair, called for a debate on the bill. Initiating the debate on the bill, Amee Yajnik of the Congress raised the issue of the huge backlog of cases pending in courts and problems faced by people when it comes to access to justice.

"Is this government sensitive in filling the vacancies? We need so many judges at the high courts," she said and urged the law minister to get the backlog of cases cleared.

Justice is a fundamental right and there is a backlog of four crore cases in the country, the Congress leader said, adding that appeals are not being heard.

She said there is a need to look at the Law Commission reports calling for reforms in the judicial system and changes in the criminal laws and the criminal justice system.

DMK's P Wilson said the retirement age of high court judges should be increased from the present 62 years to 65 years and that of the Supreme Court judges from 65 years to 70 years. He said 57 lakh cases are pending before the high courts and around 75,000 before the Supreme Court.

"Those who attain the age of 62 and 65 are well-experienced judges who will be well suited to tackle the pendency. Their invaluable experience gained over years at the bench cannot be substituted by fresh faces. With the improvement of technology and medicines, life expectancy has increased and people are more productive now," Wilson said.

Even after retirement, some high court judges go for arbitration and practise in the Supreme Court but most of them are dependent on pension, which is not enough for sustenance, he said.

"If you look at the US, there is a lifetime tenure of judges of its Supreme Court and Federal Court. In the UK, the age of retirement is 70 years and now, it is planning to increase it to 75 years," the DMK leader said.

He pointed out that presently, there are 402 vacancies in the high courts out of a total sanctioned strength of 1,098 judges and that the law minister had recently said the delay in the appointment of judges was due to procedural reasons.

Moreover, India has one of the lowest judges-to-population ratios in the world, which is just 21 judges per 10 lakh people, whereas in the UK, it is 51 judges and in the US, 107 judges per 10 lakh people, Wilson said. He also highlighted the lack of representation of all sections of the society in the higher judiciary.

"For the last few years, we have witnessed a declining representation from all sections of the society in the higher judiciary. There is a diversity deficit in our courts and they are not indicative of the wonderfully diverse juristic society of India," the DMK leader added.

With inputs from PTI

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