Supreme Court judge Justice Kurian Joseph Friday urged the government not to delay appointment of judges of the apex court and High Courts, and raise the retirement age of judges to 70.
“One request to the government: government must avoid delay in making appointments,” Justice Joseph told a ‘Conference on National Initiative to Reduce Pendency and Delay in Judicial System’. He said “once the High Court Collegium sends names to the government, there should not be (delay of) more than three months” and in the case of the Supreme Court, it should not be delayed beyond two weeks.
This, he said, will “go a long way in so far as optimum utilisation of resources is concerned”.
Justice Madan B Lokur, however, praised the government for the meticulous work it undertakes while processing names recommended for appointment as High Court judges.
He said the judiciary should introspect whether it does such detailed vetting. He said it was his view that this may be “one of the reasons for this ping-pong that’s going on, recommendations going back and forth… do we have that kind of scrutiny”.
The remarks come at a time when the Supreme Court and government are in a standoff over the elevation of Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice K M Joseph to the apex court. The SC Collegium had first recommended his name on January 10.
On the retirement age, Justice Kurian Joseph said: “(I) request government to increase retirement age of judges… both High Court and Supreme Court should be raised to 70.” By doing this, he said, the “most productive years of a judge can be utilised till 70”.
He said the Constitution enables appointment of ad-hoc judges and this should be explored. He pointed out that this provision was seldom used in the past.
Making it clear that he did not want to be in service beyond the age of 65 — he retires in November this year — and that he was not going to take up any post-retirement assignment, Justice Joseph said he was willing to help with alternate dispute resolution measures.
Currently, the retirement age of HC judges is 62 and that of SC judges is 65.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice Ranjan Gogoi also shared their views on remedying judicial arrears.
CJI Misra said “adjournment was a disorder”. He said soon after taking charge, he had urged High Court Chief Justices to constitute special benches to hear pending criminal appeals on Saturdays. The HCs, he said, had responded positively and had been able to clear around 3,000 cases.