Delhi

Judges move HC against ‘discriminatory’ pension scheme

Judicial officers seek restoration of old pension scheme or an option to choose between the two schemes

In a rare instance, the judges of Delhi’s district courts have knocked on the doors of the High Court against the current pension regime, which they said “is lacking in providing financial stability to judges post-retirement”.

The judges represented by the Delhi Judicial Services Association (DJSA) said they wanted to be placed under an old pension scheme, which was in vogue till December 31, 2003, that gave better retiral benefits to judges.

A Bench of Justice A.K. Chawla has issued notice to the Centre and Delhi government on the petition before posting the case for further hearing on August 7.

DJSA, a registered association of judicial officers of Delhi, in its plea sought direction to the government for restoration of old pension scheme as was applicable prior to January 1, 2004 to all judicial officers of Delhi Judicial Services or an option to choose between the two schemes.

Senior advocate Dayan Krishnan appeared with advocate Sachin Jain for the judges’ association before the High Court.

Root of the case

On December 22, 2003, the Centre introduced ‘New re-structured Defined Contributory Pension Scheme’ for new entrants to the Central government service appointed on or after January 1, 2004.

Three years later, the Delhi government issued a notification on July 19, 2006 stating that the employees working with the Delhi government are also governed by the condition of service applicable to the Central government employees.

The new pension scheme applies retrospectively to all the judicial officers who have been appointed on or after 2004. It also treats the judicial officers at par with civil servants of the State, a condition which the association said was against the 2003 judgment of the Supreme Court in All India Judges’ Association case.

The top court verdict had guaranteed a minimum of 50% of last pay drawn to judicial officers as pension, the plea argued. Additionally, it said the notification “erroneously” equates the services of the judicial officers of Delhi with that of civil servants of Delhi.

The scheme

The judges said the new pension scheme was “discriminatory, arbitrary, inconsistent with recommendations of the Justice Shetty Commission and Justice Padmanabhan Committee” and also in violation of various orders passed by the top court.

“The new pension scheme put draconian restriction on withdrawals from pension fund as it does not allow the judicial officers to withdraw complete pension fund even in times of dire need,” the plea stated.

They said the new pension scheme does not take into account their peculiar job conditions.

“The aloofness and the sacrifices of a judicial officer to maintain the independence of judiciary and to uphold the Constitution of India should be borne in mind while determining the financial benefits to such officers, especially post-retirement,” the plea said.

Representation unheard

The association said the Central government failed to consider its written representation in November 2018 seeking continuation of the old pension scheme.

The implementation of the new pension scheme to the judicial officers of Delhi has “grossly encroached upon their fundamental rights,” the petition said, adding it “would deprive them from the legitimate benefits to live their retired life with dignity”.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 11:25:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/judges-move-hc-against-discriminatory-pension-scheme/article30778561.ece

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