At the fag end of its tenure, the UPA government has decided to make judges happy. Using its extraordinary powers, the cabinet is set to give judges a threefold hike in salaries.
The jump is likely to be announced next week, since the government does not want to delay the matter, which as been pending since July, any further, HT has learnt.
The cabinet is understood to have agreed to use the constitutional provision of bringing an ordinance to implement the hike.
The ordinance will have the validity of a law until Parliament meets the next time.
The salaries of Supreme Court and high court judges are determined by a law passed in Parliament.
But the cabinet has powers to bring an ordinance when Parliament is not in session.
The government has taken to the ordinance route after it failed to get the bill proposing the increase in salary passed in the Parliament session which ended on Tuesday, government sources said.
“The view at the top in the government is that it would not be correct to have a resentful judiciary on the salary issue. When almost everybody in the government and the public sector has got a hike, why leave the judges out?” said a senior government official who is not authorised to speak to the media.
The cabinet had approved the judges’ salary hike on November 20. The bill proposing the hike was introduced in the Lok Sabha by law minister H.R. Bhardwaj on Monday, the second-last day of the session. Since there was practically no business in Parliament this week due to severe disruptions by the Opposition, no progress could be made on the bill.
The matter was first raised by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan in a letter to the law minister in July. He had asked for a three-fold hike, based on the recommendations of a judges’ committee.
The government’s initiative is being seen as another move to keep the judiciary in good humor. During the recently concluded monsoon session, the government did not push ahead with a bill that would have allowed people to expose corrupt judges.