To check political interference in the judiciary, top jurists have demanded a new law to prohibit Supreme Court judges from taking up any post-retirement paid work, which relates to their position as a judge.
Former Chief Justice of India (CJI) JS Verma and former Supreme Court judge VR Krishna Iyer have told HT that such judges “were responsible for making the judiciary dependant on politicians and bringing a bad name to the institution”.
Both the jurists said that retired chief justices and judges being involved in arbitration and at the same time heading commissions had become a common practice, which severely eroded judiciary’s independence.
Former CJI Verma said, “Post retirement activities of judges cannot be seen in isolation. These are directly related with their judicial offices and positions held by them. There should be a law laying down clear guidelines on this important matter of propriety, as voluntary action has failed”.
Justice Verma demanded an amendment in Article 124(7) of the Constitution which deals with judicial accountability and states, “No person who has held offices as a Judge of the Supreme Court shall plead or act in any court or before any authority within the territory of India”.
The former CJI said it was a serious matter related to judicial accountability and “therefore this article should be made more specific to remove any ambiguities or grey areas amenable to individual interpretations in respect of prohibited activities after retirement from the Supreme Court”.
Veteran jurist Krishna Iyer said the post retirement paid judicial assignments should not be allowed as it gave a direct indication of “close links between the judges and those in establishment”.
“The shield of judges was fearless truth with total negation of addiction to power and lucre. The trend of accepting official assignments after retirement is nothing but living at the mercy of governments, which certainly should not be allowed at the level of Supreme Court judges”, Justice Iyer, known for his landmark rulings, said.
Both Justice Verma and Iyer favoured induction of a new clause in the Judges Inquiry Bill 2006, to fix the accountability norms for retired judges. The bill,introduced in Parliament last year, awaits cabinet’s nod on further progress.