24 April 2021 6:27 AM GMT
Attorney general KK Venugopal on Friday reiterated that the age of retirement of judges in the higher judiciary should be enhanced from 65 years at present to 75 years and that the Chief Justices of India should have a fixed tenure of 3 to 4 years.Speaking at the virtual farewell function organised by the SCBA for all outgoing CJI S. A. Bobde, the AG said, "It is always a very sad day when...
Attorney general KK Venugopal on Friday reiterated that the age of retirement of judges in the higher judiciary should be enhanced from 65 years at present to 75 years and that the Chief Justices of India should have a fixed tenure of 3 to 4 years.
Speaking at the virtual farewell function organised by the SCBA for all outgoing CJI S. A. Bobde, the AG said,
"It is always a very sad day when the CJI retires. You get a CJ and before you have spent enough time, he disappears and you get a new CJ. I have been suggesting the Chief Justices should have a term of 3 to 4 years. Justice YV Chandrachud had a long tenure of seven years and even Justice PN Bhagwati was there for six years"
"The period has come to be cut down now… I don't know why. It is in the hands of the collegium. Because when they appoint one to the bench, they know if he/she shall be the CJI or not. If the person is around only for a few months, we lose some very, very good Chief Justices, like Justice Bobde who had a short tenure", continued the AG
"Also, the retirement age of judges should be extended from the present 65. It should be 75. We can't waste these remaining years", he opined
The AG expressed regret that in view of the ongoing Covid crisis, the outgoing CJI could not be invited by the Chief Justices of other countries like England and the US and that he did not have the opportunity to project India abroad and of an interchange of ideas. "But Justice Bobde rose to the occasion when the Covid crisis came, and though we were not trained, we had no experience, he straightaway stopped the physical hearings. Every day, we hear of one or the other lawyer getting hit by Covid. Just now there is a report that an advocate is searching for a bed. Another advocate was wandering from hospital to hospital in Noida the other day. The Chief Justice ensured the protection of the lawyers, he ensured that they are kept safe to the best of his ability by stopping physical hearings and resorting to video conferencing", said the AG.
He stated that virtual hearings have been functioning, to a great extent, very successfully and he counted upon the CJI-designate Justice NV Ramana now to "get rid of the 'Vidyo' app" which has been "creating a lot of trouble".
"Justice Bobde pronounced some judgments of great momentum. When the COVID pandemic had begun, he said that there must be no overcrowding of prisoners in jail and they be released on probation if they are not accused of any serious crime. He ensured that mid-day meals are restored even though the schools are no longer functioning. This goes to show his large-heartedness. He took up the cause of the proper and dignified disposal of the dead bodies of persons who had succumbed to Covid. These are tough issues and they came straight from the heart", the AG hailed Justice Bobde.
The AG particularly commended Justice Bobde for two judgements pronounced this week, regarding ad hoc judges and the laying down of guidelines for appointment of High Court judges – which, he said, would have a great impact on justice delivery. "Article 224A had been reduced to a dead letter because nobody had used it. The decision to appoint ad hoc judges would make a dent in the huge arrears which are pending… There are 40% vacancies in the High Courts. Somebody took charge for the first time. There is now a provision for time limits in the procedure of making recommendations, which was not there in the MoP. This will bring about a change in the vacancies and because of this there will be a significant change in the arears pending "
In his turn, Justice Ramanna voiced the grim truth that "these are testing times, that the country is battling the severest Covid wave". "Lawyers, the court staff, judges-have all been affected. This virus makes no distinction ", he said.
Justice Ramana expressed that strong measures need to be in force to combat the pandemic and requested one and all to cooperate in implementing these measures- "At the individual level, we can all help prevent the virus by diligently following the 3 'W's – wear a mask, Wash your hands, watch the distance". He urged people to not step out unless there is a real urgency.
"These are difficult times but we must not lose heart. It is the hard times that compel us to emerge stronger than ever! ", he asserted.