The Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to raise the retirement of High Court judges as 65 years and to increase the strength of Supreme Court, reports the Times of India.
As per TOI, the CJI has written two separate letters with the request to tackle the problem of huge case backlogs.
The retirement age is 62 years in case of High Court judges and 65 for Supreme Court judges as per Articles 224(3) and 124(2) of the Constitution respectively. Raising the retirement age will require a Constitutional amendment.
The strength of the Supreme Court, which is 31 now, is fixed by law made by the Parliament as per Article 124(1). Therefore, the strength can be increased by way of parliamentary legislation. The Supreme Court attained the full sanctioned strength of 31 judges last May with the appointments of Justices BR Gavai, Aniruddha Bose, A S Bopanna and Surya Kant.
"You would recall that way back in 1988, about three decades the judge strength of the SC was increased from 18 to 26, and then again after two decades in 2009, it was increased to 31, including the CJI, to expedite disposal of cases to keep pace with the rate of institution," CJI Gogoi said.
Another letter from the CJI has sought for giving tenure appointments to retired SC and HC judges as per Articles 128 and 224A of the Constitution respectively in order to tackle the issue of mounting case arrears.
With more than 43 lakh cases pending in the 24 HCs, Gogoi said, "One of the prime reasons why we are not able to contain the ever-growing pendency is shortage of HC judges. At present, 399 posts, or 37% of sanctioned judge-strength, are vacant. The existing vacancies need to be filled immediately. However, despite best efforts put in by all stake holders, it has not been possible to appoint judges to bring the working judge-strength anywhere close to the sanctioned judge strength".
"A judge takes time to evolve and by the time he is in a position to put innovative thoughts based on rich experience to practice, he finds himself nearing retirement", the CJI added making out a case for raising the retirement age of HC judges.
He also added that several parliamentary committees have recommended this. If retired HC judges can function as presiding officers of statutory tribunal beyond the age of 62 years, they could continue in HC till 65 years, the letter stated.
"The proposal suggested will ensure continued availability of of more experiences judges for a longer tenure", CJI added.