As the government and the judiciary exchange barbs over rising vacancies in courts, a Parliamentary committee on Thursday recommended increasing the retirement age of Supreme Court judges and fixing a “minimum tenure” for the Chief Justice of India and chief justices of high courts to ease shortage.
In its report tabled, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel was critical of the government and the judiciary for not sticking to timelines to fill up vacancies in high courts.
Seeking to make the present system of appointment of judges more transparent, the committee said the SC Collegium should inform the candidates whose name it has rejected on a particular ground.
It said the government also rejects the recommendations of the collegium “without furnishing cogent reasons...such practices are against the principles of natural justice and leads to opaqueness in the appointment process”.
On the issue of hiking the retirement age of SC judges from the present 65 to 67 years, it said the retirement age has remained unchanged since India became a Republic. The retirement age of high court judges was increased fro 60 to 62 in 1963.
Referring to the short tenures the CJI and chief justices of high courts often have, the panel said in the last 20 years, 17 Chief Justices of India have been appointed and out of those, only three had tenure of more than two years.
“Many of them had tenure of even less than one year,” it observed.
It said chief justice of high courts in most cases get appointed for a less than two years term. Some of the chief justices also get elevated to the bench of Supreme Court, further shortening their tenure in high courts.
“In many cases, the post of Chief Justice are not filled- up simultaneously and acting Chief Justice, appointed as a stop-gap arrangement, does not often take decision about names to be recommended to the Union Government/Supreme Court collegium for filling-up of vacancies in that High Court,” the panel said taking a grim view.