SC Directs 30% Hike In Basic Pay For Subordinate Judges Accepting Second National Judicial Pay Commission Suggestion [Read Order]

SC Directs 30% Hike In Basic Pay For Subordinate Judges Accepting Second National Judicial Pay Commission Suggestion [Read Order]

The Supreme Court bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Tuesday accepted the recommendation of the Second National Judicial Pay Commission for the  Subordinate Judiciary of an interim relief of a 30% increase in basic pay to be paid to Judicial Officers of all categories.

With this recommendation, Judicial Officers in most States would be entitled to arrears of Rs. 2 lakhs to 5 lakhs.

The bench also directed that the interim relief regarding the pay of the Judicial Officers as recommended by the Commission be implemented by all the concerned States and Union Territories w.e.f. May 1, 2018. The arrears payable pursuant to the above- mentioned recommendations, which were to be worked out with effect from January 1, 2016, shall be paid on or before June 30, 2018.

The order was passed after considering the report of the Commission which comprises of retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice P. Venkatarama Reddy and Senior Advocate and former Kerala High Court Judge R. Basant.

The bench also directed the implementation of the following recommendations of the Commission-

That interim relief shall be provided to the pensioners and family pensioners with effect from January 1, 2016 on the same basis and the arrears shall be paid accordingly;

That Wherever the benefit of interim relief has already been granted, the Judicial Officers in those States/UTs can exercise their option to continue to be governed by such Orders;

That the amounts payable by way of interim relief now proposed are liable to the adjusted against the future determination pursuant to the final report submitted by the Commission.

Genesis of the Commission

The Supreme Court had, in May 2017, constituted the Commission to examine the pay structure and other conditions of Judicial Officers belonging to the subordinate judiciary throughout the country. The Centre had then issued the notification in November last year, appointing the Commission.

As per the interim report, the Commission addressed letters to the High Courts in August/ September 2017, seeking information on pay, allowances and pensionary benefits. It also sought the assistance of experts who have had experience with pay revision aspects of Government servants. Information on the prevalent pay scales and periodicity of revisions was also received from States and Union Territories.

It further stated that even though a Consultation Paper on the issue has been prepared partly, its release was initially postponed in view of the pendency of the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Act, 2018 (which was enacted in December), and later, in view of the lack of infrastructural/logistic support. It then decided to release an interim report instead.

While most representations received by it on the aspect of interim relief sought a revised pay as per a set formula, the Commission did not consider the approach appropriate. It stated, "Though these suggestions will be kept in view and given earnest consideration while preparing the Final Report, the Commission feels that for the purpose of recommending interim relief as an ad hoc measure, it is not advisable to do the exercise of pay fixation straightaway even before eliciting the views of the stakeholders, especially the State Governments, who have to bear the ultimate financial burden.  The pay fixation/fitment into appropriate pay scales with incremental stages is not a mechanical exercise, following a particular percentage corresponding to the increase in High Court Judges’ salaries."

The Commission then suggested an interim 30% increase and assured that the final report would be submitted within four or five months. The increase, it opined, should be made effective from 1 January 2016.

It, however, clarified that the differential pay so paid to the Judicial Officers would be adjusted against the ultimate pay hike recommended in the final report of the Commission. It further stated that in case Judicial Officers in any State are entitled to more benefits by virtue of the seventh Central Pay Commission report, they shall not be asked to forego the benefit if it is more advantageous to them. In other words, option would be left to the concerned officers to opt for the benefits.

The Commission further recommended that the interim relief should be extended to pensioners and family pensioners as well and that their pension shall be proportionately revised.

Read the Order Here