The High Court And Supreme Court Judges (Salaries And Conditions Of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017
On 4th January 2018, the Lok Sabha passed a Bill (The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017) introducing a hike in salaries of the High Court and the Supreme Court judges. The Bill is now pending in Rajya Sabha. Once the bill becomes a law, the Chief Justice of India will get a salary of Rupees 2.80 lakhs instead of the prevailing one lakh. The judges of the High Court will get Rupees 2.25 lakhs per month instead of the prevailing 80,000. The salary hike is in consonance with the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission and will have a retrospective effect from 1st January 2016, in case the Bill is passed. The Bill seeks to amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954 and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958. The Bill also proposes a hike in the House Rent Allowance of the High and Supreme Court judges with effect from 1st July 2017. Further, the Bill seeks to amend sumptuary allowances retrospectively from 22nd September 2017.
The Need For Hike In Salaries
The Bill is in consonance with the plea made by Former Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice TS Thakur in 2016, requesting the government to raise the salary of the High Court and Supreme Court judges. The hike in salaries will bring the pay scale of the judges on par with the bureaucrats. The Supreme Court is currently having 25 judges instead of 31 and the High Courts are having 682 out of 1079 judges. This move will also benefit 2500 retired judges. On 31st January 2018, the President of India gave his assent to the bill.
The need to increase the salaries, allowances, and pension of the Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts has been necessitated because of the increase in the salaries, allowances and pensions of the Central Government employees on acceptance of the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission by the Government.
Key Highlights Of The Bill
The High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2017 seeks to revise the salaries of the Judges with effect from the 1st day of January 2016, as follows:—
Chief Justice of India — from Rs. 1,00,000/- per month to Rs. 2,80,000/- per month
Judges of Supreme Court — from Rs. 90,000/- per month to Rs. 2,50,000/- per month
Chief Justice of High Court — from Rs. 90,000/- per month to Rs. 2,50,000/- per month
Judges of the High Court — from Rs. 80,000/- per month to Rs. 2,25,000/- per month.
Based on the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission, the Central Government has decided to grant additional quantum of pension and family pension with reference to the age of the Central Government pensioner and family pensioner. On the same analogy, it has been decided to extend similar benefits to all retired Judges.
The Bill, if enacted and brought into operation, will involve an additional expenditure of approximately Rs. 20 crore out of which a recurring expenditure of Rs. 12 crores per annum for payment of salary and Rs. 8 crores as non-recurring expenditure towards arrears of salaries, pension and family pension from the Consolidated Fund of India.
Whether the Bill is a constructive move aimed at empowering the judiciary and ensuring equity in their pay or an exaggerated tool that provides more to a Judge than what the people of the country can afford- the answer is not simple and straight. Herein lies the scope for independent perspectives.