A letter has been addressed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an increase in the retirement age of the Judges of Higher Courts & Subordinate Courts.
The letter has been written by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who has stated that there is an inadequate strength of judges in India which is around 20 judges per million people, as against Australia’s 58, Canada’s 75, the United Kingdom’s 100 and the United States of America’s 130 per million.
Upadhyay has further stated that the problem of delay in disposal of cases is not a new problem in India and has been troubling us for a long time. However, it is no longer a tiny problem now feeding on the money of the common man. It has put the judicial system under strain and has shaken the confidence of the people also. In High Courts and Supreme Court, the best lawyers don’t want to become a judge because instead of giving continuous valuable service to the nation, our judges are compelled to retire at an early age of 65 years.
Highlighting the necessity of increasing the strength of Judiciary in India, the Advocate has said that “Increase in retirement age is not only necessary to reduce the pendency of cases but also essential to attract and retain the best legal talent in the judiciary. To reduce judicial and procedural error, India needs more experienced Judges. However, the Centre neither increased the retirement age of the Judges, nor implemented the Resolution dated 25.10.2009 to reduce the pendency from 15 years to 3 years. The Centre has also not implemented the historic Judgments from First to Fifth Judges Case and recommendations of the Parliament Standing Committee and the Law Commission of India in letter and spirit. Various reports on judicial Reforms have been submitted by the Law Commission after an in depth study, which has dealt with various aspects of Law – substantive and procedural. The Law Commission has addressed the issue in several reports since 1955: the 14th 38th 78th 79th 80th 117th 120th 121th 124th 125th 154th 139th 197th 221th 222th 229th 230th and 245th reports dealt with issues of delay, pendency and arrears. However, the Centre has not taken steps to implement them.”
Stressing on the Fundamental right to speedy trial, Upadhyay has said that the delay and lack of accountability and half-baked schemes amount to a daily mockery of the fundamental right to speedy trial. The Supreme Court has time and again made it clear that “speedy trial is the essence to criminal justice and there can be no doubt that the delay in trial by itself constitutes denial of justice.”
The paramount purpose of speedy trial is to safeguard the innocent from undue punishments but prolonged pendency has created unaccountable barriers in this regard. Huge numbers of cases are pending for years together, which create mental and economic pressures on the litigants.
Upadhyay has thus pleaded the Prime Minister to direct the Ministry of Law and Justice to take appropriate steps to increase the retirement age of Judges of the Subordinate Courts to 65 years and Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court to 70 years, in order to reduce the pendency of cases from 15 to 3 years in line with the Resolution dated 25.10.2009.
He has also sought for a direction to the Law Ministry to implement the recommendations of the Law Commission and Venkatachaliah Commission on Judicial Reform and also direct the Finance Ministry to allocate sufficient funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to meet the demands of State Judiciary as proposed by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution.
-India Legal Bureau