New Delhi: A bill to increase retirement age
of High Court judges from 62 to 65 and bring it at par with
the retirement age of Supreme Court judges was introduced in
the Lok Sabha.
The measure is likely to help around 630 judges of the 21
High Courts in the country.
The Constitution (104th Amendment) Bill, 2010 tabled by
Law Minister M Veerappa Moily seeks to amend Article 217 and
224 of the Constitution to increase the retirement age of High
Court judges. The two articles deal with appointment and
retirement age of judges.
A Constitution amendment needs support of two-thirds of
the members in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
The last time the retirement age of High Court judges was
increased was in 1963. The age was then increased from 60
to the present 62 years.
The proposal was first mooted by then Law Minister H R
Bhardwaj in April 2008. He had initiated discussion with the
opposition on the issue, but lack of political consensus led
to the issue being put on the backburner.
"Most of the reasons adduced by the 5th Pay Commission in
support of its recommendation for increasing the age of
retirement of the central government employees, such as global
practices, increase in life expectancy, improved health
standards, need for utilisation of experience and wisdom of
senior employees could also apply to judges," the Statement of
Objects and Reasons of the Bill read.
The bill said increasing the age of retirement by three
more years would restrict occurrence of new vacancies on
account of superannuation for the next three years during
which time the existing backlog in vacancies could be cleared.
"This would have a clear impact on reduction of pendency
of cases in the High Courts," the Bill stated.
According to a Law Ministry document on legal and judicial
reforms approved by the Union Cabinet in November last year,
raising the retirement age of High Court Judges from 62 to 65 years will also aid in elimination of vacancies.
Over 40 lakh cases are pending in the High Courts which
are facing a shortfall of 265 judges, as per the latest official data. While the sanctioned strength was 895, the High
Courts were working with 630 judges.
According to the Financial Memorandum, the proposal to
increase the retirement age does not involve any financial
implication as the judges` continuation for three more years
would not affect any increase in their salary and allowances.