Parliamentary Panel recommends to increase retirement age of judges in High Courts, Supreme Court

7 August, 2023 | Gautam Thakral

Parliamentary Panel recommends to increase retirement age of judges in High Courts, Supreme Court Top News

Parliamentary Panel recommends to increase retirement age of judges in High Courts, Supreme Court

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law, and Justice, which is affiliated with the department, has advocated raising the retirement age for Supreme Court and High Court justices.

The Committee states that it believes the “age of retirement of judges needs to be increased in sync with the increase in the longevity and advancement in medical sciences leading to improved health of the population” in its 133rd Report on the topic of “Judicial Processes and their reform.”

According to the report’s Paragraph 47, the Committee therefore urges “relevant Articles of the Constitution of India to be amended and the age at which judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts may retire may be appropriately increased.”

However, it continued, while raising the retirement age for judges, the effectiveness of judges may be reviewed based on their health, the standard of their decisions, and the quantity of their decisions.
“For this, a system of appraisal may be devised and put in place, by the Supreme Court collegium, before any judge is recommended for enhancement of their tenure,” the study said in Paragraph 48.

Parliament Panel seeks review of judges’ post retirement assignments

The Committee is of the opinion that with the increase in the retirement age of judges, the practise of post-retirement assignments to judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts in bodies and institutions financed from the public exchequer may be reevaluated to ensure their impartiality. The Committee notes in its Paragraph 49 that many stakeholders had also raised objections to the post-retirement assignments given to judges, as per the report.

It also suggested that the judges should be educated to avoid closing all courts simultaneously for a few months each year.

“The demand for doing away with vacations in the Courts emanates primarily due to two factors, one is the huge pendency of cases in our courts, and the other is the inconvenience faced by the litigants during the vacations of the courts,” it said.

“A common man holds a perception that despite having such huge pendency of cases their judges go on long vacations. Further during the vacations, the litigants have to suffer a lot despite having a handful of vacation courts/benches,” it added.

“Though in this connection it may be noted that for the past few years, the pendency in the Supreme Court has remained static and in the year 2022 the disposal of cases was more than the number of cases instituted in that year. Thus it can be seen that as far as the disposal of cases is concerned, the performance of our Supreme Court is quite good. The problem lies with the legacy arrears of about 35000,” the report pointed.

With regard to High Courts, the pendency is humungous, it further said, and noted more than 60 lakh cases are pending as on date, which is a reason for deep concern. “Though it is also a grim fact that almost all the High Courts have a very high level of vacancies,” the report stated.

As on December 31 last year, the report states, overall vacancies in the High Courts stood at 30 per cent of the sanctioned strength and many of them had vacancies ranging from 40 – 50 per cent. “Thus vacations are not the only cause of high pendency in the higher judiciary,” added the Committee.

This report focuses on the country’s higher courts, such as the Supreme Court and High Courts. The committee looked at several issues and made six reform recommendations, including promoting social diversity in the selection of Supreme Court and High Court judges; feasibility of regional Supreme Court benches; investigating the possibility of raising the retirement age of High Court and Supreme Court judges; vacations for judges in both the Supreme Court and High Courts; and mandatory declaration of conflicts of interest.

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