Enhancing retirement age for judges based on performance not practical idea: Govt tells Par panel

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New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) Extending the retirement age of Supreme Court and High Court judges based on their performance may not be practical and will "further erode" the powers of Parliament and may also result in "undue favouritism", the government has told a parliamentary panel.

In August last, the Standing Committee on Law and Personnel, in its report on ‘Judicial Processes and their Reforms’, had recommended a performance appraisal system for extending the tenure of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts beyond the existing retirement age.

According to constitutional provisions, at present, while Supreme Court judges retire at the age of 65 years, judges of the 25 high courts demit office at 62.

"... while increasing the age of retirement for judges, the performance of judges may be reassessed based on their health conditions, quality of judgements, number of judgments delivered.

"For this, a system of appraisal may be devised and put in place, by the SC collegium, before any judge is recommended for enhancement of their tenure," the committee headed by BJP's Sushil Kumar Modi had recommended.

Responding to the recommendation, the government said linking performance evaluation to the issue of increase in retirement age "may not be practical and may not actually bring out the desired results".

"This will result in empowering the SCC (Supreme Court Collegium) for the evaluation of the judges at the time of giving extensions on individual basis and will further erode the powers of Parliament and empower (the) Judiciary through the SCC to take decision on the enhancement of age," it said.

The Department of Justice in the law ministry also said that this step may also result in "undue favouritism" and make the judges "susceptible to pressures", thus impinging on their performance as impartial judges.

"Besides, this would create avoidable burden on the limited manpower resources in the Judiciary and the Executive, who are involved in the appointment process," it noted.

The government's response has been noted by the committee in its action taken report on its earlier report on "Judicial Processes and Their Reforms".

The action taken report was tabled in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The panel said it "does not desire to pursue" the recommendation in view of the reply given by the government. PTI NAB RT RT RT