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Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts taking up post-retirement jobs has increasingly become a norm rather than an exception. With the establishment of more and more tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies that are required to be manned by retired judges, we find nearly all former Supreme Court judges holding one post or the other.
However, what is interesting is that judges who have not taken up any post-retirement jobs have also been employed in one way or the other. And this is being done through judicial orders of the Supreme Court.
For instance, Justice RM Lodha is currently monitoring three significant cases – the BCCI case, case on the PACL scam and the case relating to medical colleges wherein he is overseeing the functioning of Medical Council of India.
In fact, stating that Justice Lodha is monitoring the above three cases would be an understatement. He is, in fact, exercising wide powers, particularly in the BCCI matter and MCI case.
His report in the BCCI case was what led to the overhaul of the BCCI. In the MCI matter, the committee headed by him is wielding wide powers by granting and denying recognition to medical colleges.
Justice Lodha’s case is not an isolated example.
The Supreme Court today entrusted Justice (Retd.) RV Raveendran with the task of guiding the National Investigation Agency in the Hadiya case. The order was passed by a Bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud. Today’s order states that the same is being done to ensure that the investigation “is fair”.
“Learned senior counsel for the petitioner states, that he has no objection to the National Investigation Agency carrying out the investigation, subject to this Court’s ensuring that the investigation is fair. To ensure that the investigation carried out by the National Investigation Agency is fair, we consider it just and appropriate to direct, that the National Investigation Agency shall carry out the said investigation under the guidance of a retired Judge of this Court, namely, Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran.”
However, what is even more noteworthy is that the Supreme Court prescribes the remuneration of these retired judges for the work entrusted to them.
The emoluments of Justice Raveendran are specified in the order as follows:
“Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran shall be paid a consolidated fee of Rs.1,00,000/- (Rupees one lakh only) for a sitting with National Investigation Agency at Bangalore, and Rs.2,00,000/- (Rupees Two lakhs only) per day for travelling outside Bangalore, apart from reimbursement of all travelling, boarding, lodging and secretarial expenses, while discharging the responsibility entrusted to him.
The Government of India shall reimburse the same to Mr. Justice R.V. Raveendran, within two weeks from the date of submission of the bills by his Lordship.”
Interestingly, the Supreme Court today formed another committee of two retired judges to verify the correctness of the decision taken by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to close 241 cases relating to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. This committee has been termed ‘Supervisory Committee’ – essentially a committee to supervise a committee.
While judicial committees are required in exceptional cases to supervise or monitor cases, appointing a retired judge to head a judicial committee and prescribing the entitlements and emoluments arbitrarily is becoming more and more in vogue.
The Court would do well to remember that it is the taxpayer’s money which is being used to reimburse these retired judges.
It is high time the Court asks itself whether it should lay down some broad criteria to govern such ad-hoc appointments of retired judges and their expenses.