Pre-retirement judgements and post-retirement jobs
The Constitution has been conceived to provide a pride of place to the judiciary. Constitutional appointees to the Supreme Court have been guaranteed several rights in order to secure the independence of judiciary.
Independence of judiciary –
- Chapter 4 of Part V of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court, and Chapter 5 of Part VI deals with the High Courts.
- The salaries of judges and their age of retirement are all guaranteed in order to secure their independence.
- They cannot be easily removed except by way of impeachment under Articles 124(4) and 217(1)(b).
- They have the power to review legislation and strike it down. They can also question the acts of the executive.
- All this makes it clear that the framers of the Constitution envisaged an unambitious judiciary for which the only guiding values were the provisions of the Constitution.
Post-retirement jobs –
- It was thought that on retirement from high constitutional office, judges would lead a retired life. Nobody ever expected them to accept plum posts. But the clear demarcation between the judiciary and executive got blurred as many judges over the years began to accept posts offered by the government.
- Former Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley (in 2013) remarked that “the desire of a post-retirement job influences pre-retirement judgments. It is a threat to the independence of the Judiciary and once it influences pre-retirement judgments, it adversely impacts on the functioning of our Judiciary.”
- The appointments of persons who have held constitutional office will undermine the very constitutional values of impartiality in the dispensation of justice. It will also go against the clear demarcation of separation of powers.
What can be done?
- If post-retirement appointments are going to undermine confidence in the judiciary and in constitutional democracy, it is time to have a law in place either by way of a constitutional amendment or a parliamentary enactment barring such appointments. This is the only way to secure the confidence of the people and prevent post-retirement appointments.
- Judges can be compensated by being given their last drawn salary as pension. Also, the age of retirement for judges can be increased by a year or two. This will undo the damage caused by post-retirement jobs.
It is important to remember that judges are constitutional servants, not government servants.
Source – The Hindu
QUESTION – Recently, a trend of judges accepting post-retirement jobs has been observed. Examine how this affects the independence of judiciary and what can be done to save the judicial independence.