Should Judges Take Up Post–Retirement Assignments?
We all know that in our country, the judiciary and the army enjoy the highest reputation as compared to other professions in the eyes of a common man. Of late, however, both these professions have come under scrutiny as the names of many judges and top army generals have been figuring in one scam or another. This has all the more only served in triggering a debate as to whether retired army generals and judges be allowed to take up post-retirement benefits freely.
Judges should not themselves voluntarily take up post-retirement assignments because if they take up a job especially under the government or big companies, a general impression gathers steam that they can be moulded and influenced very easily. Obviously, all judges are not made of the stuff of Justice VR Krishna Iyer whom no one can mould or influence. But what about the others especially who are vulnerable and can be easily lured? After all, who does not like status, power, position and prestige?
But many times it is noticed that judges become more pliable to government even while serving so that they can get a good post-retirement assignment which not amazingly they get also very easily. One does not mind if the salary of judges are increased considerably as also their pensions but One would feel amused to see judges taking up post-retirement assignments as this will only render them more vulnerable and pliable which can never be good for our national interests.
The government is always more than happy to dish out post-retirement assignments to judges as it suits its vested interests. Don’t we know how the government many times appoint a commission under the chairmanship of a retired judge of High Court or Supreme Court to probe something under unabated pressure from media, people and others to sooth the fraying nerves? The government did so in case of the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition when it appointed Justice Liberhan Committee to probe all aspects and submit its finding. It took more than 17 years and the riot victims had all lost hope of any concrete action. What is even worse is that the government itself intentionally does not provide all facilities to the judge which only serves in delaying the arduous task of the commission to submit its report . But the worst part is yet to come! The government then refuses to implement the findings of the report and says it is not binding on it.
We all know how the government refused bluntly to set up a bench of High Court in West UP as recommended by the Jaswant Committee report in the early 1980s, even though it agreed for a bench in Aurangabad in Maharashtra. All this notwithstanding, UP has maximum pending cases, maximum population, maximum crime rate and maximum constituencies apart from being one of the largest states in India. Similarly the 230th report of law commission very categorically recommended setting up more High Court benches more than two years ago but again to no avail! This must end now. Either the government should implement the recommendations of all the committees they appoint lock, stock and barrel or it should stop appointing such useless commissions which only serve to drain the exchequer for many years at the cost of taxpayers! The government cannot have it both ways .
At a time when the credibility of the judges is sinking to its lowest ebb, it will not help in anyway that judges keep on taking post-retirement jobs with impunity.
By Sanjeev Sirohi