December 14, 2021 1:49:19 am
Rajya Sabha on Monday approved The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021, which brings clarity on the eligibility of additional pension quantum for different age brackets for retired judges.
Passed by Lok Sabha last week, the Bill was sent back unanimously to the Lower House as it is a Money Bill, and thus was passed by Parliament.
Leading the discussion on the Bill, Congress member Amee Yajnik highlighted the issue of pendency of cases and undertrials languishing in jails. “People of India think that this is the last resort… They come to court knowing full well that their matters will not be heard for a long time…,” she said, asking Law Minister Kiren Rijiju how the government intends to clear the backlog cases, and to fill up the vacant position of judges in both lower courts and high courts.
Another demand raised by several members included a division of the Supreme Court into a constitutional court and a court of appeals, and to also have around four additional benches of the apex court across different regions of the country, including in the Northeast.
DMK’s P Wilson echoed demands raised by many members on raising the retirement age of judges. He mentioned India has a poor judge-to-population ratio of 21 judges per million people, while the ratio in the UK is 51 per million and in the US it is 107 per million. He mentioned that there are 402 vacancies in the High Courts out of total 1,098 sanctioned posts, and “about 57 lakh cases are pending before the various High Courts and 75,000 cases are pending before the Supreme Court”.
Several members mentioned that there are very few women judges, and judges from Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes in the judiciary. YSRCP leader Vemireddy Prabhakar Reddy said, “Only 24 judges belong to SC/ST against a total of 850 judges in all the High Courts. Fourteen out of these High Courts did not have a single SC/ST Judge also. Currently, the percentage of the SC/ST Judges in the Supreme Court is just six, whereas it is about three per cent in the High Courts.”
BJD’s Amar Patnaik mentioned that around 85 per cent of the undertrials in the country belong to marginalised communities.
Responding to the discussion, Rijiju thanked everyone for supporting the Bill and assured the members that there is no politics and everyone stands together when it comes to ensuring justice. “There should be no gap between the common man and the justice system. I am thankful to all of you for supporting the Bill without bringing any politics into it,” Rijiju said.
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