Ex-CJI, law panel also opposed post-retirement jobs
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Former union law minister Jaitley said on Sunday that the "clamour for post-retirement jobs among judges is affecting the impartiality of the judiciary" and favoured a two-year "cooling-off" period before retired judges are appointed to tribunals and commissions.
In the past, former Chief Justice of India J S Verma was among those who red-flagged the threat to judicial independence due to judges falling to the lure of post-retirement jobs in the government.
"One such method to penetrate the resolve of even a few of the best is the temptation of lucrative post-retirement benefits given by the executive to a favoured few. The obverse of the constitutional guarantee of security of tenure and conditions of service is the obligation of such constitutional functionaries to the observance of a code of post-retiral conduct eschewing any such temptation," Justice Verma cautioned in his S Govind Swaminadhan Memorial Lecture at the Madras High Court in 2010.
"Some recent instances where sitting judges have been recommended for appointment to government posts much before they actually retire is very disturbing. I find that unacceptable. I have always held that post-retirement conduct of judges should be regulated to ensure that they have not been influenced by any extraneous factor of post-retirement jobs during their tenure. Any chamber practice or arbitration of private disputes should not be allowed. To achieve this, Article 124(7) must be amended," Justice Verma told The Indian Express.
In fact, as early as in 1958, the first Law Commission of India headed by jurist M C Setalvad, in its 14th report on "Reforms of the Judicial Administration", observed, "There can be no doubt that it is clearly undesirable that Supreme Court judges should look forward to other government employment after their retirement. The government is a party in a large number of cases in the highest court and the average citizen may well get the impression that a judge who might look forward to being employed by the government after his retirement does not bring to bear on his work that detachment of outlook which is expected of a judge in cases in which the government is a party."
The commission further said, "We are clearly of the view that the practice has a tendency to affect the independence of judges and should be discontinued." It also recommended that a law be brought to bar retired judges from getting government jobs after their retirement. But successive governments chose not to implement the recommendation.
As already reported, of the 23 judges who have retired from the Supreme Court since January 2008, 18 got jobs in different government commissions and tribunals, with many of them continuing in these positions.
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