High pendency of cases, large number of vacancies and the college’s appointment system were among the main topics Lok Sabha members raised on Tuesday when debating a bill aimed at clarifying when and when to judge the Supreme Court The Supreme Court will receive a higher pension when they reach a certain age.
Congress Chairman Shashi Tharoor opened the debate on the 2021 Amendment Act for Supreme Court and Supreme Court Justices (salaries and terms of service) and made some critical remarks about “the judiciary’s failure to contain the tide of majoritarianism”.
The “inaction” of the judiciary always favors those in power, argued Mr Tharoor, citing a number of examples such as the judicial challenge to the repeal of Article 370 and the Citizenship Act (Amending Act).
Mr. Tharoor also pointed to the “insensitivity” of a high judiciary in dealing with the plight of migrant workers during the COVID lockdown.
Addressed the issue of the SC Collegium’s transfer of Supreme Justice Sanjib Banerjee from the Supreme Court of Madras to the Supreme Court of Meghalaya, Kalyan Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress said the decision was tantamount to “wasting the nation’s property”.
Congressman Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury called for a mechanism to ensure accountability for corruption in the judiciary.
Several members also highlighted the need to raise the retirement age of Supreme Court judges to match the retirement age of SC judges. With immediate effect, HC judges will retire at the age of 62 and SC judges at the age of 65.
Pinaki Misra of Biju Janata Dal said the bill aims to overturn judgments from two high courts that have been upheld by the Supreme Court. He urged the government to reconsider the move, saying it shouldn’t be “bad”.
Mr Misra also said that a bill should be tabled to create a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to create a better system for appointing judges to the higher judiciary.
Former Union State Minister for Law and BJP member PP Choudhury called on the government to “rethink” the collegium system to appoint members of the higher judiciary.
“I urge the government to reconsider the collegium system … and the original spirit and purpose of Article 124 must be restored,” he said.
Before 1993, when judges were appointed by the executive branch, they couldn’t be said to have made bad judgments, he said. He also pushed for an All India Judicial Service modeled on the IAS and IPS to appoint judges in lower courts.
Dayanidhi Maran (DMK), in an overt reference to Jobs after retirement, called for a cooling off period for judges, saying that two former chief judges of India have been “demoted” – one was appointed governor and the other became a Rajya Sabha member.