Govt to consider abolishing retirement age for judges: HC

The Allahabad HC has asked the Centre to consider a suggestion that there should be no retirement age for judges.

Updated: Jul 06, 2010, 20:51 PM IST

Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court has
asked the Centre to consider a suggestion that there should be
no retirement age for judges, observing that adoption of the
US model on retirement of judges may not appear to be
violative of the Constitution.

Hearing a PIL which sought a direction to government
to reconsider the policy on the retirement issue and to bring
a constitutional amendment for introducing `Judge for Life`
concept as prevalent in the US, the Lucknow bench of the High
Court asked the Centre to reply within two weeks.

"...It may not appear to be an act of transgressing
the constitutional scheme if the age limit for retirement of
judges of the Supreme Court of the United States of America is
adopted in our country," the bench comprising Justice Uma Nath
Singh and Justice Devendra Kumar Arora said in its July 3
order.

"It is not understandable as to how the age limit for
retirement of presiding officers and members of tribunals, who
exercise quasi-judicial powers and are subject to the powers
of superintendence as also the jurisdiction of High Courts,
can be higher than the age limit prescribed for the retirement
of chief justices and judges of high courts," the bench
observed.

The petitioner Ashok Pandey, a local lawyer, had also
sought a direction to call the retired judges, except the
retired chief justices, to serve in High Courts and the
Supreme Court to perform judicial work as ad-hoc judges for
which there is no provision in the Constitution at present.

The High Court, on the request of Assistant Solicitor
General of India, granted two weeks` time to the Centre to
file a counter affidavit. A rejoinder, if any, may be filed
with in a week thereafter. The court directed to list the
matter on July 28.

"The framers of Indian Constitution have borrowed the
parliamentary form of democracy and concept of `Rule of Law`
from Great Britain and the fundamental rights and role of
higher judiciary as the custodian of these rights and the
Hon`ble Supreme Court as the guardian of Indian Constitution
from the Constitution of the USA.

"Thus, it may not appear to be an act of transgressing
the constitutional scheme if the age limit for retirement of
judges of the Supreme Court of United States of America is
adopted in our country," it said.

The court also said that "in view of all the
aforesaid, the submission of petitioner in person that there
should be no age limit for retirement of the judges of supreme
court and high courts, prima facie, deserves to be considered.

"Hence, issue notice," the court said, noting that the
Centre had made a plea for dismissal of the PIL on the basis
of a ruling by the Supreme Court.

In the United Kingdom, the age limit prescribed for
retirement of judges has been fixed at 70, if first appointed
to a judicial office after March 31, 1995, or at 75 otherwise,
the court observed.

"As regards the tenure of judges of the Supreme Court
of USA, they hold their office during good behaviour, meaning
thereby that they may serve for the remainder of their life
although they can voluntarily resign or retire," it said.

PTI