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Financial dignity must for working, retired judicial officers: SC [Read Judgment]

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      11 January, 2024 03:34 PM      0 Comments
Financial dignity must for working, retired judicial officers: SC [Read Judgment]

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has financial dignity is must for both working and retired judicial officers, while approving recommendations of Second National Judicial Pay Commission for revision of pay and benefits of district court judges.

It directed setting up of a committee in each High Court to monitor its implementation.

"It is a matter of grave concern that though officers in the other services have availed of a revision of their conditions of service as far back as January 01, 2016, similar issues pertaining to judicial officers are still awaiting a final decision eight years thereafter," a bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said.

The court pointed out since then a number of judges have retired from services and the family pensioners of those who have passed away are awaiting resolution as well.

The court said it needs to be emphasised that providing for judges, both during their tenure and upon retirement, is correlated with the independence of the judiciary.

The State is duty bound to ensure that the conditions of service of judicial officers, both during the tenure of office and after retirement, are commensurate with the need to maintain dignified working conditions, it said.

"The State is under an affirmative obligation to ensure dignified conditions of work for its judicial officers and it cannot raise the defense of an increase in financial burden or expenditure," the bench said.

The court said that judicial independence, which is necessary to preserve the faith and confidence of common citizens in the rule of law, can be ensured and enhanced only so long as judges are able to lead their life with a sense of financial dignity.

"The conditions of service while a judge is in service must ensure a dignified existence. The post-retirement conditions of service have a crucial bearing on the dignity and independence of the office of a judge and how it is perceived by the society," the bench said.

"If the service of the judiciary is to be a viable career option so as to attract talent, conditions of service, both for working and retired officers, must offer security and dignity," the court said.

The court directed all States and Union Territories to act to comply with the directions expeditiously and ensure disbursements on account of arrears of salary, pension and allowances due and payable to judicial officers, retired judicial officers and family pensioners computed and paid on or before February 29, 2024.

The court also directed each 'Committee for Service Conditions of the District Judiciary’ working under the auspices of the every High Court to file a report on or before April 7, 2024, through the registrar general of the High Court.

Throwing light on the importance of the district judiciary members, the bench said they are the first point of engagement for citizens who are confronted with the need for dispute resolution.

The court also said the work of a Judge cannot be assessed solely in terms of their duties during court working hours.

"Every judicial officer is required to work both before and after the court working hours. The judicial work of each day requires preparation before cases are called out. A judicial officer continues to work on cases which may have been dealt with in court, in terms of preparing the judgment and attending to other administrative aspects of the judicial record," the bench said.

"Judicial officers spend the largest part of their working life in service of the institution. The nature of the office often renders the incumbent incapacitated in availing of opportunities for legal work which may otherwise be available to a member of the Bar. That furnishes an additional reason why post-retirement, it is necessary for the State to ensure that judicial officers are able to live in conditions of human dignity," the bench said.
 

[Read Judgment]



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