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Clear collegium picks, raise retirement age to 70, says Justice Joseph

Appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of India should be cleared by the government within two weeks and to high courts within three months, justice Kurien Joseph of the Supreme Court of India says.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2018 23:38 IST
Ashok Bagriya
Ashok Bagriya
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Collegium,Retirement age,Judiciary
At the conference on the backlog of cases in the judicial system, justice Joseph expressed concern over the delays that have characterised appointments to the higher judiciary. (Sonu Mehta/HT file photo)

Appointment of judges to the Supreme Court of India should be cleared by the government within two weeks and to high courts within three months, justice Kurien Joseph of the Supreme Court of India said on Friday in his opening remarks at a conference of judges in the national capital.

At the conference on the backlog of cases in the judicial system, justice Joseph expressed concern over the delays that have characterised appointments to the higher judiciary

“Government must avoid delay in making appointments,” he said. “As far as the high courts are concerned there should not be a delay of more than three months once the high court collegium sends names. While in the case of the Supreme Court, where the selection is made from the judges themselves, appointments must not be delayed beyond two weeks” after recommendations are made, he said.

Justice Joseph also pitched for raising the retirement age of judges to 70 years from 62 in high courts and 65 in the apex court.

This could help reduce the pendency of cases, he said.

“I am in favour of increasing the age of retirement of judges of the high courts and the Supreme Court. The age of retirement for high court and Supreme Court judges must be the same and should be increased to 70 years so that the most productive years of a judge are utilised”.

Urging chief justices of the high courts to consult their senior colleagues on allocation of work and other issues, justice Jospeh said, “There is no doubt that the chief justice is the master of the roster, but as they (chief justices) are from outside the state, they should consult other senior judges of the high courts and bank on their experience and expertise in allocation of work and other issues. “

Justice Joseph was one of the four judges of the Supreme Court who earlier this year held an unprecedented press conference and criticised the allocation of judicial work by the chief justice of India Dipak Misra.

Calling for active consultations with the government on reducing the backlog of case in courts, he said: “Any discussion of reducing pendency of cases will be incomplete without involving the government; they hold the key in providing infrastructure and also judicial appointments.”

On the same occasion, justice Madan B Lokur of the Supreme Court emphasised the need to set up secretariats for high court collegiums that are responsible for appointment of judges. He said, “The Supreme Court had in its NJAC (National Judicial Appointments Commission) judgment directed high courts to set up secretariats for the collegiums. How many high courts have done it ? “

Justice Lokur also blamed the high courts for not doing enough ground work on the names of the new judges to be appointed and said, “We need to introspect whether there is enough scrutiny of the names and this is one of the reasons for this ping-pong that is going on (over) the appointment of judges.”

Justice Ranjan Gogoi talked about introduction of artificial intelligence to solve the problem of rising pendency in courts. “Scope of Artificial intelligence in judiciary must be explored.”

Justice Gogoi also stressed the need to use alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to deal with cases, but was not optimistic about getting help from the government.”I am not optimistic of additional budgetary support from the government for alternate dispute resolution,” he said.

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 23:37 IST