The long-pending demand of high court judges of one rank one pension is set to be met as government plans to bring a bill to rectify an anomaly as per which judges selected from the Bar get lesser pension than those elevated from state judicial services.
The proposal to amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954, comes more than a year after the Supreme Court ruled that such a discrepancy must be removed.
The Law Ministry plans to bring the bill in the Monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 21.
According to the apex court ruling, if the service of a judicial officer is counted for fixation of pension, there is “no valid reason” as to why the experience at Bar cannot be treated as equivalent for the same purpose.
“…we accept the petitioners’ claim and declare that for pensionary benefits, ten years’ practice as an advocate be added as a qualifying service for judges elevated from the Bar.”
The apex court ruling delivered by a bench headed by then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam on March 31, 2014 had also said that “one rank one pension must be the norm in respect of a Constitutional office.”
“The amendment bill is based on the Supreme Court judgment…we are only implementing the judgement,” a senior government functionary told PTI.
The apex court ruling came on a clutch of petitions filed by former judges of various High Courts as well as by the Association of the Retired Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts elevated from the Bar.
The petitions said that while Part-I and Part-III judges hold equivalent posts, they are not similarly situated with regard to pension and retirement benefits which is breach of fundamental rights under Articles 14 (equality) and 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution and “one rank one pension must be the norm in respect of a constitutional office.”
The petitioners had noted that the number of years practiced as an advocate should be taken into account and be added to the service as a judge of the High Court for the purpose of determining the maximum pension permissible under Part-I of the First Schedule to the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954.
Such a discrepancy does not exist in the law governing salaries and service conditions of Supreme Court judges.
Source : NDTV