The Allahabad High Court has asked the Centre to consider a suggestion that there should be no retirement age for judges, observing that adoption of the US model on retirement of judges may not appear to be violative of the Constitution.
Hearing a PIL which sought a direction to government to reconsider the policy on the retirement issue and to bring a constitutional amendment for introducing 'Judge for Life' concept as prevalent in the US, the Lucknow bench of the High Court asked the Centre to reply within two weeks.
"...It may not appear to be an act of transgressing the constitutional scheme if the age limit for retirement of judges of the Supreme Court of the United States of America is adopted in our country," the bench comprising Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Devendra Kumar Arora said in its July 3 order.
"It is not understandable as to how the age limit for retirement of presiding officers and members of tribunals, who exercise quasi-judicial powers and are subject to the powers of superintendence as also the jurisdiction of High Courts, can be higher than the age limit prescribed for the retirement of chief justices and judges of high courts," the bench observed.
The petitioner Ashok Pandey, a local lawyer, had also sought a direction to call the retired judges, except the retired chief justices, to serve in High Courts and the Supreme Court to perform judicial work as ad-hoc judges for which there is no provision in the Constitution at present.
The High Court, on the request of Assistant Solicitor General of India, granted two weeks' time to the Centre to file a counter affidavit. A rejoinder, if any, may be filed with in a week thereafter. The court directed to list the matter on July 28.
"The framers of Indian Constitution have borrowed the parliamentary form of democracy and concept of 'Rule of Law' from Great Britain and the fundamental rights and role of higher judiciary as the custodian of these rights and the Hon'ble Supreme Court as the guardian of Indian Constitution from the Constitution of the USA.
"Thus, it may not appear to be an act of transgressing the constitutional scheme if the age limit for retirement of judges of the Supreme Court of United States of America is adopted in our country," it said.
The court also said that "in view of all the aforesaid, the submission of petitioner in person that there should be no age limit for retirement of the judges of supreme court and high courts, prima facie, deserves to be considered.
"Hence, issue notice," the court said, noting that the Centre had made a plea for dismissal of the PIL on the basis of a ruling by the Supreme Court.