January 07, 2019

No proposal as of now to increase retirement age of SC, HC judges: Union Law Ministry


Responding to a recommendation by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, and Law and Justice with regard to raising the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from the current 65 years to 67 years and of High Courts judges from the current 62 years to 65 years, the Union Law Ministry said that there was no proposal as of now to increase the retirement age.

The move to raise the retirement age was recommended with an aim to address the issue of large vacancies in the higher judiciary.

The Committee, in its 99th report tabled in Parliament, said, “The Committee reiterates its recommendation (for raising the age of retirement of SC and HC judges) as it feels that it would help in retaining the existing judges, which in turn would help in reducing both vacancy and pendency of cases in the short run.”

It added, “The Committee is concerned with the large number of vacancies of judges in High Courts and also took note of the problem in its 87th and 91st reports.”

The Committee then noted that the High Courts are not adhering to the guidelines laid down by the SC for the appointment of judges. The administrative responsibility of HCs is with the SC to direct the former to initiate the process of filling up of vacancies in advance.

The Committee said, “To reduce pendency of cases, the existing vacancy positions of judges need to be filled up immediately and the vacancies arising in future should be filled strictly as per the guidelines in the second judge’s case.”

On the other hand, the Ministry stated that the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts is a continuous and collaborative process of the Judiciary and Executive.

The Ministry said, “While every effort is made to fill vacancies expeditiously, vacancies keep on arising on account of retirement, resignation or elevation of judges, and increase in judge strength.”

It added, “The timeline for the initiation of the proposals for filling vacancies is rarely adhered to by the High Courts.”

Earlier, in July 2018, amid concerns over a huge number of vacancies in the Supreme Court, then Attorney General KK Venugopal also had requested the Centre to consider increasing the age of retirement of top court judges from 65 years to 68 years and of high court judges from 62 to 65 years.

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