Attorney General wants retirement age of SC, HC judges increased

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New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, the government’s primary lawyer in the Supreme Court, on Friday said the government should consider raising the retirement age of Supreme Court judges to 68 and High Court judges to 65. It is currently 65 and 62.

Venugopal, speaking at the farewell function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association for Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, referred to various cases he was hearing and the vision he had.

Many of the “innovative thoughts and ideas” of Justice Goel would remain “unfulfilled because of his retirement from office”, he said.

“We are losing a judge of great excellence. His concern for the common man was great. This could have been avoided if the age of retirement was not 62 for a high court judge and 65 for Supreme Court judges.

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“That is because a judge has to evolve over the years. He has to have vast experience as an advocate. When he becomes a judge, he has to sit on different benches doing different subjects so that he is an expert in each one.

“Finally, the judge is elevated to the Supreme Court. And in the Supreme Court, it is only when he presides that he is able to hold a sway in regard to the innovative thoughts that he has.

“By then, it is time to say ‘goodbye’. Therefore, it is my sincere hope that the Government of India will look into this issue and raise it to, say, 65 for judges of high courts and 68 for judges of the Supreme Court. That will be in the interest of the justice delivery system.”

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With Justice Goel’s retirement, the top court is left with 22 judges as against the sanctioned strength of 31.

Justice Goel enrolled at the Bar in 1974. He practised before the Punjab & Haryana High Court for five years and the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court for about 22 years.

Justice Goel headed the bench which delivered the judgment forbidding immediate arrest under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Justice Goel, who had a four-year tenure in the apex court, said it was the thought about people falsely accused not having a forum to turn to that persuaded him to take up this profession.

Justice Goel would be remembered for taking the path-breaking step of referring the issue of divorce through instant triple talaq among Muslims to a five-judge constitution bench which held it as illegal and arbitrary.

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He was also part of another landmark judgement of 2016 quashing the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act which sought to give the executive a say in the appointment of top judges.

Justice Goel shared his dream for the legal system, saying he wants to see India at number 1 in the rule of law index.

–IANS

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