Bar Council Of India Backs Suggestion To Increase Retirement Age Of Judges
A gavel sits on a stage. (Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News)

Bar Council Of India Backs Suggestion To Increase Retirement Age Of Judges

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A day after Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde said the judges of higher judiciary are "willing to work" longer if the superannuation age is raised, the top bar body, Bar Council of India supported the suggestion mooted by Attorney General KK Venugopal on Thursday in a function in New Delhi.

The BCI, however, said that "if the retirement age is enhanced, there should be no post retiral assignment for the retired Judges of Supreme Court/High Courts and the assignments in various Commissions, Tribunals, Boards etc., should be meant for deserving advocates only." The bar body also said that it is considering introduction of a minimum two years experience clause for advocates to practice at the Supreme Court or High Courts.

The apex bar body stated that it is considering to amend its rule under Section 7 and 49 of the Advocates Act, 1961 and make it mandatory for new lawyers to have prior experience before the apex court and high courts.

Also read: Judges Willing To Work Longer If Retirement Age Increased, Says CJI SA Bobde

The statement of the bar body assumes significance as the CJI, on Thursday, raised the issue of inexperienced lawyers appearing in the top court and the need of their proper training.

The council's comment came in the wake of a statement by the CJI that the judges were "willing to work" longer if the superannuation age is raised.

Justice Bobde, who was sworn-in as the 47th CJI on Nov. 18, was responding to the suggestion of Attorney General Venugopal on the issue in his capacity as a member of the bar, not as the country's top law officer.

The BCI said it appreciated the suggestion made by Venugopal for enhancement of the age of retirement of High Court and Supreme Court Judges and to make it either 68 or 70 years.

At present, the apex court judges demit office at the age of 65 while high court judges superannuate after reaching 62.

"In fact, the Council has been making this demand for last three years and it had sent a detailed letter to the government in this regard. But, due to elections of the State Bar Council and Bar Council of India, the matter could not be pressed earlier,” the BCI said.

"The Council thinks that in the interest of justice and for strengthening the institution, the age of retirement of both High Court and Supreme court Judges should be enhanced and it should be the same for High Court and Supreme Court. Again the Council is proposing to raise this issue before the government seriously," it added.

It further added, "if the retirement age is enhanced, there should be no post retiral assignment for the retired Judges of Supreme Court/High Courts and the assignments in various Commissions, Tribunals, Boards etc., should be meant for deserving advocates only." The BCI also said that it was considering to introduce certain imminent reformative measures including that "before joining any High Court Bar, a newly enrolled advocate will have to practice in a District/Taluka Court, at least for a period of two years." The BCI said the proposal was aimed at the betterment of the legal profession as well as legal education.

"The Council is likely to introduce mandatory experience clause for every new entrant at the Bar before joining the High Court and the Supreme Court. Before joining any High Court Bar, a newly enrolled advocate will have to practice in a District/Taluka Court, at least for a period of two years.”

"Similarly, a minimum of two years experience of practice at any High Court will be mandatory for practicing in Supreme Court," the BCI said.

Venugopal, who twice made it clear that he was saying this not as the Attorney General of India but as a member of the bar, said that present age of retirement of judges in higher judiciary is "fairly insufficient".

Justice Bobde also raised concern about common people and their ability to access the independent and affordable advocacy in view of the fact that lawyers charge exorbitant professional fees and asked the bar to ponder over this issue.

Addressing the gathering at the CJI's felicitation ceremony, Venugopal said on Thursday that lawyers who are in 70s and 80s are "vigorously" arguing their cases in courts and likewise, the retirement age of judges can be extended to 70 years in case of Supreme Court and 68 years for high courts.

The function was organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association.

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