Context: Problems in India’s Higher Judiciary
Retirement age of judges
- Disparity between the retirement ages of High Court and Supreme Court judges; High Court judges now retire at 62 and Supreme Court judges at 65.
- Doing away with this disparity and increasing the age of retirement for both High Court and Supreme Court judges will reduce the burden of pending cases in higher judiciary
Lack of a culture of service
- Most of Supreme Court judges after their tenure focus on arbitrations and amass considerable fortunes with high fees and multiple sittings.
- A minority of judges devote themselves to public service
- Another lot are appointed to various constitutional posts and tribunals and commissions.
- It would be worthwhile reform to create a cadre of public service for retired judges and from this pool make appointments to the constitutional and statutory posts and special assignments.
Selection of Chief Justice of India
- It is generally assumed that the senior most judge of the Supreme Court should be the Chief Justice of India is not mentioned in the constitution
- Article 124 merely states that the President will appoint every judge of the Supreme Court, and this includes the Chief Justice
- Public purpose is better served by ensuring that the judges of the Supreme Court during their entire tenure are not swayed by their expectations or aspirations to the higher office of CJI
So who should be the CJI?
- CJI should be the best reputed Chief Justice of a High Court who has proved himself worthy both in judicial office as well as administrative leadership and has those qualities of heart and head which mark a good leader.
- The appointee should have a clear three year term — not the truncated weeks and months that some CJIs now get.
- He/she should work in a strict manner especially in regard to the roster of allotment of cases, especially the sensitive ones, and appointments to the Supreme Court and High Courts and other important matters of judicial and administrative importance.
The above mentioned reforms will increase the productivity of the higher judiciary and make it accountable to the people of India
Source: The Hindu