High pendency of cases, large number of vacancies and the Collegium system of appointment were among the key issues raised by Lok Sabha members on Tuesday while debating a bill that seeks to bring clarity on when Supreme Court and High Court judges will get enhanced pension on attaining a certain age.
Opening the debate on the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor made some critical observations about “the judiciary failing to stem the tide of majoritarianism”.
Judiciary's “inaction” always favours those in power, Mr Tharoor argued as he cited a number of examples such the judicial challenge to the abrogation of Article 370 and Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Mr Tharoor also flagged the “insensitivity” shown by high judiciary while dealing with the plight of migrant workers during the COVID lockdown.
Trinamool Congress’ Kalyan Banerjee raised the issue of transfer of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee from the Madras High Court to the Meghalaya High Court by the SC Collegium and said that the decision was tantamount to “wasting a property of the nation”.
Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called for a mechanism to ensure accountability for corruption in the judiciary.
Several members also stressed on the need to increase the retirement age of high court judges and bring it on a par with the retirement age of SC judges. As of now, HC judges retire at 62 years and SC judges at 65 years of age.
Pinaki Misra of the Biju Janata Dal said the Bill seeks to nullify judgments of two High Courts that have been upheld by the Supreme Court. He urged the government to reconsider the move, saying it should not be “churlish”.
Mr Misra also said a bill on creating a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) should be brought for a better system for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
Former Union minister of state for law and BJP member P.P. Choudhury urged the government to “revisit” the Collegium system to appoint members of the higher judiciary.
“I request the government to revisit the Collegium system...and the original spirit and object of Article 124 is required to be restored,” he said.
Before 1993, when judges were appointed by the executive, one cannot say they delivered poor judgements, he said. He also pushed for an All India Judicial Service on lines of IAS and IPS to appoint judges of subordinate courts.
Dayanidhi Maran (DMK), in an apparent reference to post-retirement jobs, called for having a cooling off period for judges and said that two former Chief Justices of India were “demoted” — one was appointed as a Governor and the other became a Rajya Sabha member.