New Delhi: The government introduced a bill that proposes to amend the salaries and services acts of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts and to bring clarity concerning the date of eligibility for an additional quantum of pension to a retired judge in the Rajya Sabha on Monday.
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.
The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha December 8. It 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.
“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,” Rijiju said while placing the bill.
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh, who was on the chair called for a debate on the bill. However, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Mallikarjun Kharge urged him to take a decision on 12 suspended Opposition members first. He was supported by some other Opposition members, including the DMK’s Tiruchi Siva.
However, Singh said the chairman of the House has already requested all political parties to amicably solve the issue and called Amee Yajnik of the Congress to initiate the debate on the bill.
Yajnik raised the issue of the huge backlog of cases 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. She urged the law minister to get the backlog of cases cleared. Yajnik 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.
P Wilson of the DMK 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 pointed out that 57 lakh cases are pending before the High Courts and around 75,000 before the Supreme Court.
Wilson 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.
John Brittas of the CPI(M) hit out at the appointment system for judges in the country, saying judges appointing judges is unheard of anywhere in the world. “Is there any system of appointment of judges in the world which is completely shrouded in mystery, darkness and secrecy? It is only in India and the law minister is a mute spectator,” he said.