New Delhi: As the government considers a plan to raise the retirement age of judges in the higher judiciary, News18 tries to explain some of the basic questions which may pop into one's mind regarding the new bill.
How Did the Present Retirement Age Come into Being?
Through a constitutional amendment. Section 4 of the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 1963, amended the retirement age of a high court judge from the earlier 60 years to 62 years.
As of now, Article 217 of the Constitution reads as:
Article 217. Appointment and conditions of the office of a Judge of a High Court,
1. Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, ......... and in any other case, until he attains the age of sixty two years.
For SC judge: Article 124 (2): Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years.
Any Earlier Bill on Retirement Age of Judges?
Yes. A bill was brought by the previous UPA government in 2010 to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years, but lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.
The Constitution (114th Amendment) Bill, 2010, which provided for increasing the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 25. But it could not be taken up for consideration and passage, and it lapsed.
What is the Position of the Government Now?
On March 9 this year, responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether any proposal for extension of retirement age of high court judges was under consideration by the government, Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary had said that no such proposal was under consideration.
Can Government Initiate Such a Process Without Drafting a Bill or Passing an Ordinance?
No. A bill needs to be tabled like the 2010 one. If not passed, then an ordinance might help. But a constitutional amendment is necessary. Ordinance can overrule this, but cannot for long as SC itself terms it as a fraud on the Constitution.
Has There Been Any Recommendations from Any Parliamentary Panel on This Issue?
In March this year, the parliamentary standing committee on law and personnel said that to reduce the pendency of cases, the existing vacancies for judges need to be filled up immediately. It said the vacancies arising in the future should be filled up "strictly" as per guidelines laid down by the apex court in a 1993 judgement. It recommended that the retirement age of SC judges be raised to 67 years from the present 65 and that of HC judges to 65 from the present 62.