A private member bill seeking to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 was moved by Senior Advocate P Wilson in the Upper House of Parliament today.
The Bill underlines that one of the key reasons behind the persistent problem of backlog cases in India is that when judges retire, appointment of new judges in their place is not immediate. As a result, as many as 45 lakh cases are pending before the High Courts.
He suggested that this situation could be ameliorated by amending Articles 217(1) and 224(3) of the Indian Constitution to increase the age of retirement for high court judges from 62 to 65. He has asserted that such an increase will not be unprecedented in context to the 15th Constitutional Amendment whereby, the retirement age for high court judges was increased from 60 to 62.
"When the Constitution was originally enacted, Article 217 (1) fixed the age of retirement of High Court Judges as 60 years. Subsequently, within 13 years. it was realised that the human body and mind does not become so incapacitated at the age of 60 that Judges must retire at that age. Hence by virtue of the Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act,1963, the age of retirement was increased to 62 years. From 1963 onwards, the age of retirement has remained at 62."
The Bill also gains strength from the report submitted by Justice MN Venkatachaliah Commission in 2002 whereby it was recommended that the retirement age for high court judges should be increased to 65.
The Bill asserts that advancements in science, medicine, lifestyle etc. has allowed persons to be functional and work well up to the age of 75 years and over the past years, retired Judges have shown their keenness to work, having been deputed at senior designations.
This is due to two reasons, the Bill suggests,
Thus it has been stressed that the time has come to increase the age of retirement.
"the judicial person would be greatly benefited because a person who has a wealth of experience under his or her belt by virtue of a long tenure in the High Court would continue to serve the High Court for a further period of 3 years," the Bill read.
The Bill also states that globally, the retirement age for judges is well above the current age of retirement set in India.
"the age of retirement of judges in developed countries with good medical facilities and infrastructure is around 70," the Bill read.
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