Supreme Court Summons Chief and Finance Secretaries of 16 States Over Judicial Pay Non-Compliance

The Supreme Court has summoned the chief and finance secretaries of 16 states for failing to comply with the Second National Judicial Pay Commission’s (SNJPC) recommendations on arrears of pension and retirement benefits for judicial officers. The court expressed strong disapproval of the states’ non-compliance, emphasizing the need for adherence to the recommendations.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra highlighted the repeated failure to comply with the SNJPC’s directives, stating, “We know how to extract compliance now. If we just say that the chief secretary will be present if the affidavit is not filed then it will not be filed. We are not sending them to jail but let them be here and then an affidavit will be submitted. Let they be personally present now.”

Despite being given seven opportunities, several states have not fully complied with the recommendations, prompting the bench to order the personal appearance of the chief and finance secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Odisha, and Rajasthan on August 23.

The court warned that failure to comply would result in contempt proceedings and made it clear that no further extensions would be granted. This decision followed submissions and a note provided by lawyer K Parmeswar, who is assisting the court as amicus curiae.

The bench also addressed the issue of tax deductions at source on allowances due to current and retired judicial officers. “Wherever exemptions are available under the Income Tax Act from deduction of TDS on allowances, the state governments shall ensure that no deductions are made. Wherever TDS are wrongly deducted, the amount shall be refunded to the judicial officers,” the bench ordered.

In rejecting requests for additional time from states such as West Bengal, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and Kerala, the court stressed the urgency of compliance. The bench dismissed Assam’s plea for deferment due to floods and Delhi’s claim of awaiting the Centre’s approval, with Chief Justice Chandrachud stating, “We are not concerned with that. You sort it out with the Centre.”

The Supreme Court had previously underscored the importance of uniform service conditions for judicial officers nationwide. In a January 10 verdict, the court mandated the establishment of a two-judge committee in each high court to oversee the implementation of orders on pay, pension, and other benefits according to the SNJPC recommendations.

The court expressed grave concern over the delayed resolution of issues affecting judicial officers, noting that while officers in other services have benefited from revised service conditions since January 1, 2016, judicial officers continue to await a final decision. The SNJPC recommendations encompass pay structure, pension, family pension, and allowances, and propose a permanent mechanism for determining service conditions for the district judiciary.

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