[Guest Post] Is it fair to increase Retirement Age of Judges of SC and HC ?

The post has been contributed by Dr. Sujatha S. Patil. She is presently Visiting Professor at Navarachana University, Baroda, and former Principal at IFIM Law College, Bangalore.

Amidst speculation that Central Government was proposing to increase the retirement age of judges of Supreme Court and High Court, the Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad clarified that there was no such move.

Central Government is proposing to increase the retirement age of judges of Supreme Court and High Court. The Government is likely to introduce a bill in the monsoon session of Parliament to increase the retirement age of SC judges as 67 from 65, and HC judges as 64 from 62.  It will require a constitutional amendment to increase the judges’ retirement age.  The move is seemingly made with the intention to address the shortage of judges.

Recently, Attorney General K.K Venugopal had supported such a move. While speaking at the farewell function of Justice A.K Goel, Venugopal said:-

“A judge takes time to evolve and by the time he or she is in a position to put innovative thoughts to practice, comes the retirement age. This could have been avoided if the age of retirement was not 62 for High court judge and 65 for Supreme Court judges. That is because a judge has to evolve over the years. He has to have vast experience as an advocate. When he becomes a judge, he has to sit on different benches doing different subjects so that is an expert in each one.

Finally, the judge is elevated to the Supreme Court. In Supreme Court, it is only when he presides that he is able to hold a sway in regard to the innovative thoughts that he has. By then, it would be time to say goodbye. Therefore, it is my sincere Government of India will look into this issue and raise it to say, 65 for the judge of High Court and 68 for judges of Supreme Court. That will be in the interest of the justice delivery system”.

Based on the above views what I suggest that a mere increase of two or three years  the age of retirement will not serve the purpose. The age of 60 or 62 is the right time for retirement and can have a rest & pleasure life for a couple of years.

The Government should think in another way, I mean giving an opportunity for the young generation who are capable to take such a responsible position. Presently the law is so much diversified across the globe,  we need young and innovative law professional who experienced with complicated & dynamic issues in the area of IPR, Privacy and Cybersecurity matters, Trade Secret, Cross-border transactions, etc. As per changing scenario, the functioning of our Judiciary must also change.

On the other hand, due to political intervention in the system of Judiciary, so many potential practicing lawyers, who are into the practice for more than 10 to 15 years, are deprived of the opportunity of becoming HC & SC Judge.

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L&P Editorial Team

The Law & Practice Blog's editorial team.

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