Pre-retirement judgments and post-retirement jobs-THE HINDU-23-04-2020


Enacting a law barring appointments of retired judges by the government will restore confidence in the judiciary.

The Constitution has been conceived to provide a pride of place to the judiciary. Constitutional appointees to the Supreme Court have been guaranteed several rights in order to secure their independence. They cannot be easily removed except by way of impeachment under Articles 124 and 217. All this makes it clear that the framers of the Constitution envisaged an unambitious judiciary for which the only guiding values were the provisions of the Constitution.

The Gogoi example:

It was thought that on retirement from high constitutional office, a judge would lead a retired life. A few years ago, a former Chief Justice of India was made a Governor by the ruling BJP government. Now, we have the case of a former CJI, Ranjan Gogoi, being nominated by the President to the Rajya Sabha and taking oath as Member of Parliament. During his tenure as CJI, Justice Gogoi presided over important cases such as Ayodhya and Rafale where all the decisions went in favour of the government.

People are fast losing confidence in the so-called independent judiciary. Almost everyone, barring a few notable, honourable men, who are an exception, wants a job after retirement. The desire of a post-retirement job influences pre-retirement judgments. It is a threat to the independence of the Judiciary and once it influences pre-retirement judgments, it adversely impacts on the functioning of our Judiciary.

Gogoi has to be perceived. An interview that Justice Gogoi gave after assuming office as member of the Rajya Sabha made the situation worse.

Time to enact a law:

If post-retirement appointments are going to undermine confidence in the judiciary and in constitutional democracy, it is time to have a law in place either by way of a constitutional amendment or a parliamentary enactment barring such appointments. This is the only way to secure the confidence of the people and prevent post-retirement appointments. This will undo the damage caused by post-retirement jobs. It is important to remember that judges are constitutional servants, not government servants.

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