Existing laws do not allow scrapping of post retirement benefits including pension of any judge of the Supreme Court and high court who resigns even after being held guilty on corruption charges, the government has conceded.
It has put the ball in the judiciary's domain on the issue of taking action against corrupt judges to avoid delays in deciding their fate through the lengthy and cumbersome process of removal (impeachment) by Parliament.
The law ministry, in its response to a Right to Information (RTI) application by activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, has also contradicted the five year-old stand of the Supreme Court on the issue taken by the then Chief Justice of India (CJI) YK Sabharwal.
In its reply on why Justice Soumitra Sen and Justice PD Dinakaran, both of whom faced impeachment proceedings before resigning, would get pension benefits, the justice department pleaded helplessness.
"There is no constitutional or statutory provision restricting the judges from their entitlement to post-retirement benefits even in cases of those who resign pre-mature from their posts to avoid contempt proceedings," the department stated.
On the issue of whether the chief justices of respective high courts and the CJI in case of a Supreme Court judge have the powers to take action on complaints of corruption, the government has replied in the positive.
"The issue of judicial accountability was discussed way back in 1990 in the conference of chief justices and a broad consensus had emerged on the issue," the department replied.
Providing details, it stated: "The high court chief justice has the competence to receive complaints against the conduct of judges and he would look into it for finding out whether it deserves to be examined."
A high court chief justice also has the powers to get the facts mentioned in a complaint examined and even refer the matter to the CJI, if in his opinion the matter is serious, the government pointed out.
It has, however, conceded that except for impeaching a judge, no other remedy is available to the government under existing laws.