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Posted at: Jul 14, 2015, 3:44 PM; last updated: Jul 14, 2015, 3:44 PM (IST)

One rank, one pension for HC judges; govt to amend law

New Delhi, July 14

The central government plans to bring a Bill to amend the law governing their salaries and service conditions in a move to rectify an anomaly that leaves High Court judges to draw lesser pension than those elevated from state judicial services.

The proposal to amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954, comes more than a year after the Supreme Court ruled the discrepancy must be removed.

The Law Ministry intends to table the Bill in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament that begins on July 21.

According to an apex court ruling, if the service of a judicial officer is counted for fixation of pension, there is "no valid reason" to experience gained at the Bar should not command the same benefit.

"We accept the petitioners' claim and declare that for pensionary benefits, ten years' practice as an advocate be added as a qualifying service for judges elevated from the Bar."

The ruling, delivered by a bench headed by then Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam on March 31, 2014, had also said: "One rank one pension must be the norm in respect of a Constitutional office."

"The amendment Bill is based on the Supreme Court judgment. We are only implementing the judgement," a senior government functionary said.

The apex court ruling after several petitions filed by former judges of the various High Courts of the country as well as by the Association of the Retired Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts elevated from the Bar challenged the prevalent rule.

The petitions said that while Part-I and Part-III judges hold equivalent posts, they are not similarly treated when it came to pension and retirement benefits, which is breach of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

Delivering the verdict, the SC had said: "The experience and knowledge gained by a successful lawyer at the Bar can never be considered to be less important from any point of view vis-a-vis the experience gained by a judicial officer."

Such a discrepancy does not exist in the law governing salaries and service conditions of Supreme Court judges.

There are 24 High Courts in the country. The salary and pension of the judges is drawn from the Consolidated Fund of India. — PTI

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