Opposition parties on Wednesday appeared reluctant to provide unconditional support to the government move to raise the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years.
A bill seeking to make the retirement age of Supreme Court and high court judges uniform at 65 years, introduced in the Lok Sabha by Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily on Wednesday, is likely to be referred to a parliamentary committee for scrutiny.
The government will require the support of major Opposition parties to get the bill — The Constitution (One Hundred and Fourteenth Amendment) Bill, 2010 — passed.
Any bill to amend the Constitution is required to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament.
“The age of retirement of high court judges, which was fixed at 60 years in the beginning, was enhanced to 62 years in 1963. Since then, no revision has taken place in this regard,” states the bill.
The proposal was first mooted in March 2008 by then Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj. He had initiated discussion with the Opposition, but lack of political consensus led to the issue being put on the backburner.
The Opposition parties, mainly the BJP and Left, do not seem impressed even now with the government’s move.
“We have no objection to raising the retirement age of high court judges, but related issues need to be looked into. Raise the retirement age, fill up the judges’ vacancies and ban retired judges from being appointed to commission and tribunals,” said an Opposition leader.
A senior Left leader said the government had so far not initiated any discussions with them on the bill.
“The UPA government cannot get this bill passed without Opposition support, but it has been hesitant to talk to us. The bill will go to a parliamentary committee first,” the leader said.
The earliest the government can hope to push the bill is during the winter session.