Millennium Post

Judges need gap years too

The Suggestion by a leading political party that there should be a two year cooling off period for judges after their retirement, before they become eligible for appointments to commissions or tribunals, is sound. It is observed far too often that judges, even of the highest court of the land, are appointed to commissions and tribunals immediately on retirement. This is a far from perfect arrangement. The issue has a bearing on the independence of the judiciary and its integrity. As is known, appointments to commissions and tribunals are made by the executive. This gives the government of the day an extraordinary power to oblige judges. It is easy to imagine how this power can be misused by governments to seek judgements in their favour. They can dangle the carrot of further employment to judges who are partial to them and deny such opportunities to those whose judgements do not coincide with government interests. The matter is of great importance as the government is the biggest litigant, with some of the cases in courts involving important questions that have a bearing on the future of the country.

As the great many recent scams and corruption cases have shown, the days, if they ever existed, of the government ever being completely aboveboard and in the right, have gone. The government has been found far to often defending the indefensible in the courts, twisting the law to seek its convenience. It has even attempted, on various occasions, to dilute the provisions of the constitution, seeking more powers for itself at the expense of the constitutional rights of the people. There are times it has tried to introduce laws that are contrary to the constitutional scheme, sometimes to override judicial pronouncements that have not gone in its favour. An impartial and independent judiciary is the only bulwark against a dictatorial and tryannical regime. The power of judical review is inherent to the judicary and must never be diluted. The judiciary is a separate wing of the government which must not be interfered with. This is why there should be no temptations and inducements to the judges from the executive.
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