Concerned Over Meagre Pension to Retired District Judicial Officers, SC Asks Centre to Find Solution

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed concerns over retired district judicial officers getting meagre pensions and asked the Centre to find out a “just solution” to the issue.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra sought the assistance of Attorney General R Venkataramani in the matter after it was informed that retired district judicial officers were getting pensions of Rs 19,000-20,000.

“The retired judges are getting a pension of Rs 19,000-20,000 after a long service, how do they survive? This is the kind of office where you are completely disabled, you cannot suddenly jump into practice and go to the high court at the age of 61-62 years and start practising,” the bench observed.

During the hearing, advocate K Parameshwar, who has been appointed as amicus curiae in the matter, submitted that an adequate pension is necessary to ensure the judicial independence of the judicial officer.

Observing that there is a need to maintain uniformity in service conditions of judicial officers across the country, the top court had earlier directed the setting up of a two-judge committee in each high court to oversee the implementation of the orders on pay, pension and other retirement benefits for judicial officers as per the Second National Judicial Pay Commission.

The pay commission’s recommendations cover the pay structure, pension and family pension and allowances, besides dealing with the issue of establishing a permanent mechanism to determine the subjects of the service conditions of the district judiciary.

The apex court had said that judicial independence, which is necessary to preserve the faith and confidence of common citizens in the rule of law, can be ensured and enhanced only so long as judges are able to lead their lives with a sense of financial dignity.

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“The conditions of service while a judge is in service must ensure a dignified existence. The post-retirement conditions of service have a crucial bearing on the dignity and independence of the office of a judge and how it is perceived by society. If the service of the judiciary is to be a viable career option so as to attract talent, conditions of service both for working and retired officers must offer security and dignity,” the bench had said.

The top court had also said it was a matter of grave concern that though officers in other services have availed of a revision of their conditions of service as far back as January 1, 2016, similar issues pertaining to judicial officers are still awaiting a final decision eight years thereafter.

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