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However, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has clarified that no such plan is in the works. According to The Print, when asked about the possibility of such a Bill being introduced, Law Minister Prasad said, “No, with a capital N.”
As per the News18 report, sources revealed that the government was floating the idea of passing a Bill to increase the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 67 and that of High Court judges from 62 to 64.
It has also been reported that such a Bill is likely to be tabled in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which began today. However, with Prasad’s clarification, no such development will take place.
The burgeoning vacancies at high courts across the country has been cited as the reason to pass such a Bill. As per the latest Department of Justice statistics, as many as 411 high court judge posts are lying vacant.
Previous attempts to increase the tenures of judges of the higher judiciary have fallen short. In 2010, the UPA government introduced a Bill to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years. However, that Bill lapsed with the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.
In March this year, a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel had recommended increasing the retirement age of judges.
And judges themselves are in favour of this proposition. In an earlier interview, former Chief Justice of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court Justice BA Khan had said,
“Raising the retirement age of judges is a must…If you see the lot of retired judges today, most of them are fit. There is an association for retired High Court and Supreme Court judges; I would say that is a talent pool. Those are experienced people who have worked as judges all their lives. Why don’t you utilise their services? When you complain about pendency, why don’t you use them to solve it in some way?”
“…a judge has to evolve over the years. He has to have vast experience as an advocate. When he becomes a judge, he has to sit on different benches doing different subjects so that is an expert in each one.
Finally, the judge is elevated to the Supreme Court. And in Supreme Court, it is only when he presides that he is able to hold a sway in regard to the innovative thoughts that he has. By then, it would be time to say ‘goodbye’…”
Corrigendum (18:52): The story has been amended to reflect the views of the Law Minister on the topic.