Second National Judicial Pay Commission Releases Consultation Paper Seeking Suggestions From Judicial Officers On Allowances

Second National Judicial Pay Commission Releases Consultation Paper Seeking Suggestions From Judicial Officers On Allowances

Second National Judicial Pay Commission has released a Consultation Paper speaking about giving monetary incentives, emoluments and conditions of services including post-retirement allowances and benefits to the working and retired judicial officers.

An official press release states, “This Consultation paper speaks about giving monetary incentives, emoluments and conditions of services including post-retirement allowances and benefits to the working and retired judicial officers and other stakeholders in the country.  The Commission proposed to evolve uniform pay scales to treat the Judges of Subordinate Judiciary differently in matters relating to pay; allowances and conditions shall not be compared with the pay scales of Civil Administrative officers.”

The Commission has also sought suggestions from judicial officers through a questionnaire annexed to it with regard to 16 types of allowances being drawn by them. It further proposes to hold regional conferences in a few cities, and examine working method and work environment for promoting efficiency in judicial administration.

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 had addressed letters to the High Courts in August/ September 2017, seeking information on pay, allowances and pensionary benefits. It had 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 had 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 had 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 had, 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 had 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.

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

The Supreme Court had then, in March this year, accepted these recommendations, directing all the concerned States and Union Territories to implement the same from May 1, 2018. The arrears payable pursuant to the above- mentioned recommendations, which were to be worked out with effect from January 1, 2016, were directed to be paid on or before June 30, 2018.

Read the Consultation Paper Here