It appears that a politically motivated group is lobbying to increase the retirement age for Supreme Court and High Court Judges by 3 years. If they succeed, SC and HC judges would retire at 68 and 65 respectively.
Media reports state that a politically motivated group is lobbying to increase the retirement age for Supreme Court and High Court Judges by 3 years. A Supreme Court report indicates a shortage of 4 judges in the Supreme Court and about 265 judges at the various High Courts, and a disproportionately increasing burden on the courts. These vacancies may take atleast 3 -4 years to be filled and sources tell us that this move is an arrangement may reduce the burden on the courts.
The Constitution Review Committee headed by former Chief Justice of India, M.N. Venkatachaliah [pictured], had recommended that Supreme Court Judges retire at 68 and High Court Judges at 65. However, Justice Venkatachalaiah has a divergent personal opinion. He told Bar & Bench, “Earlier the High Court Judges used to retire at 60 and later it was increased to 62. There is no justification or philosophical underpinning as to why one cannot continue till 65 or 68 years. My personal view is that the retirement age for the Supreme Court Judges and the High Court Judges has to be same.”
A consultation paper prepared by Justice Jeevan Reddy, one of the Members of the Constitution Review Committee had also recommended that the age of retirement for the Supreme Court and High Court judges should be the same. “The reason given in support of this view is that some judges/chief justices of High Courts, who are about to retire, seek to be elevated to the Supreme Court lured by the attraction of three more years in office; that they hardly have sufficient time to make a contribution,” said Justice Reddy.
Raising the age limit will require amending Article 124(2) of the Constitution of India, by a two-thirds majority in the Parliament. If the Constitution were amended before May 2012, the Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, would then be the Chief Justice of India for an additional 3 years and would retire in May 2013. Chief Justice Balakrishnan will then become the second longest serving Chief Justice after Justice Chandrachud who served as the Chief Justice for 7 years and 5 months.
Most states in the USA peg the retirement age for judges at 70. Now there is a move to increase the retirement age to 73 in the Virginia Supreme Court. Judges for the Supreme Court of the United States of America are appointed for a life tenure, terminating upon death, resignation, retirement, or conviction.
Chief Justice Rehnquist, of the Supreme Court of United States, presided till the age of 81. In several countries the retirement age for Judges are well over 65. In Canada, they retire at the age of 75, while Australian, Tanzanian and South African Judges retire at 70. In Germany Judges retire at 68. Pakistan has an age limit similar to that of India, with their Supreme Court Judges retiring at 65.
If the lobby succeeds, then a Supreme Court Judge would retire at 68, and a High Court Judge at 65.