Lok Sabha passes bill to hike salaries of judges
The Lok Sabha (Lok Sabha) passed a bill to hike the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Bill proposes to hike the salary of the Chief Justice of India to ₹ 2.80 lakh a month, and that of judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices of High Courts to ₹ 2.5 lakh a month. Judges of High Courts will draw a salary of ₹ 2.25 lakh a month once this Bill becomes law.
The Rajya Sabha has to pass the Bill by Friday, the last day of this session, failing which it will spill on to the budget session.
Separation of powers
The salary hike, in line with the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission for officers of all-India services, will come into force with effect from January 1, 2016.
The discussion on the Bill saw members express concern over what they saw as threats to separation of powers, calls for hiked salaries for MPs, and even for reservation in the judiciary.
All-India Judicial Service
Replying to the debate, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad expressed his support for the idea of an All-India Judicial Service on the lines of the Indian Administrative Service for drawing the best legal minds to the judiciary. He said reservation could become a reality if such a service comes up.
He expressed concern over the Supreme Court setting aside the National Judicial Appointments Commission on the plea that the presence of the Law Minister would mean a judge appointed through the process may not be fair when hearing a case against the government. Mr. Prasad said some of the finest judges were appointed in times when the Law Minister was part of the process of appointment.
Making a strong pitch for separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary, Mr. Prasad said this was part of the basic structure of the Constitution none could violate, adding that only those who were accountable could legislate. “Governance and accountability go together,” he said.
He also referred to the pendency of judges’ vacancies, adding that the government could fill the vacancies only when the collegium made recommendations.
He said there were six vacancies in the Supreme Court and while the process was on to fill 129 vacancies in High Courts, there were 269 vacant posts of High Court judges for which no recommendations by the collegium had been received. “It is the responsibility of the judiciary to fill these,” Mr. Prasad said.
–NEW DELHI, JANUARY 04, 2018