Central government rightly thinking raising retirement-age of High Court judges at 65 years to be at par with that of Supreme Court judges

Posted Thursday November 19, 2015 by Subhash Chandra Agrawal

It refers to Attorney General of India mentioning in Supreme Court that Central government is considering raising retirement-age of High Court judges to 65 years to be at par with that of Supreme Court judges. Step will be in right direction to effectively check lobbying by some High Court judges for elevation to Supreme Court. Moreover services of many deserving High Court judges will then be effectively utilised till optimum retirement-age of 65 years for judges that is presently only for Supreme Court judges.

But BJP when in opposition always talked of having a consolidated bill on judicial reforms including on judicial appointments and also desiring a ban of two years on post-retirement postings of judges. But ultimately it legislated only bill on judicial appointments which also eventually struck down by the Apex Court. BJP should keep to its words and rather than thinking and thinking should actually come forward with a consolidated bill on judicial reforms including raising retirement-age of High Court judges to 65 years and imposing a two-year ban on post-retirement postings of retired judges. Even chairpersons of Human Rights Commissions at national and state level should be selected from amongst retired judges of Supreme Court by National Judicial Commission, after two years of their retirement.

Chief Justice of India should be made for one year by rotation amongst senior-most judges with at least one year of tenure left to check contrast cases with Justice Kamal Narain Singh having been CJI for just 18 days (25.11.1991 to 12.12.1991) while Justice Yeshwant Vishnu Chandrachud having been CJI for more than seven years (22.02.1978 to 11.07.1985). All High Court judges should be compulsorily appointed from outside their home-states to avoid chances of locally-appointed judges being approached/influenced through former bar-colleagues and local relations/friends etc.

Enquiry-commissions set up by political rulers even though headed by retired judges are usually an eye-wash with panels usually giving findings in tune with requirement of political rulers having appointed them like happened in two different enquiry-panels one each by Gujarat government and Union Railway Ministry on Godhra incident with both panels giving contrast reports. National Judicial Commission should be the only authority to suggest names of retired judges in all judicial panels/commissions appointed by the centre and/or states. Either same or another Commission on similar lines should be formed for looking into complaints against judges of higher courts with power to order punishment and/or removal of guilty-found judges.

Subhash Chandra Agrawal

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