Attorney General K. K. Venugopal has voiced his disagreement with the growing opinion against judges accepting post-retirement jobs. “So many years of worthy experience would be in vain if that were to be the order of the day!....How would the tribunals and commissions function?”, he advanced.
He was speaking at the farewell function of outgoing Chief Justice Dipak Misra organized by Supreme Court Bar Association.
He also recommended raising the retirement age of judges.
It was his case that for there to be quality judges, it is logical that the remuneration of the members of the bench be increased manifold.
Expressing relief at Chief Justice-designate Justice Ranjan Gogoi having formulated a plan to tackle the alarming and ever-piling pendency that plagues the justice delivery system, the AG stressed that a reform of the system is the need of the hour, lest the Article 21 right of access to justice reduce to a mirage.
Showering praises on the outgoing Chief Justice, he commended Chief Justice Misra for the sheer volume of progressive judgments he rendered in his tenure and for how he decided diverse and intricate subjects, in turn, contributing to the development of new jurisprudence.
“The media has branded him as the ‘Gender Warrior’”, remarked the AG in view of the Chief Justice having successively upheld gender equality on several occasions.
Supreme Court Bar Association President and Senior Advocate Vikas Singh also applauded Chief Justice Misra for the integrity of his character.
He recalled how last year the judge had got embroiled in corruption allegations in connection with the Prasad Educational Trust matter and how Mr. Singh’s views had not been heeded despite him having been the Medical Council of India’s advocate. He clarified that the intent behind the open letter he had addressed to all judges was not to support the Chief Justice but to protect the dignity of the institution.
He criticised how some members of the bar had attempted to unduly exploit certain adversities Chief Justice Misra was faced with in his 13-month long tenure and how the institution would have suffered irreparable damage if the majority of the bar had not intervened.
Highlighting the moral fibre of all judges, Mr. Singh narrated how he had once rebuffed a client’s belief of procuring a favourable judgment by bribing the judge- “I had told the concerned person that there is always an equal probability of a case being decided either way”. “It was alleged that big money had exchanged hands when (Former Chief Justice) S. H. Kapadia had quashed Vodafone’s tax liabilities? Justice Kapadia was the kind of man that even if he was offered crores of rupees, he would not look at it!”, he continued.
Mr. Singh also expressed his unhappiness with the Bar Council of India’s plea to dissuade Chief Justice Misra from taking up a post-retirement job. He stated that though a retired judge should refrain from participating in politics, an able judge may be assigned other roles. He even suggested that all judges be paid remuneration even upon retirement.