BJP for ‘cooling period’ before judges head tribunals

In an attack on judiciary, BJP today said “pre-retirement judgements are influenced by a desire for a post-retirement job”, while pitching for a two-year cooling off period for retiring judges before they are appointed to tribunals and commissions.

“Even though there is a retirement age… But the judges are unwilling to retire,” Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said at a conference of lawyers organised by the party’s legal cell.

“Pre-retirement judgements are influenced by a desire for a post-retirement job,” he said in his address during which he did not name anybody.

Batting for judicial reforms, the BJP leader said that he had no hesitation in supporting increase in the tenure of judges or supporting pensions equal to last drawn salaries for judges.

“But this clamour for post retirement jobs is adversely affecting impartiality of the judiciary of the country and time has come that it should come to an end,” he said.

BJP chief Nitin Gadkari while recommending a cooling off period for judges, said, “I say this with a lot of responsibility that even before they retire, it is decided for Supreme Court and High Court judges as to which Commission they will go and join.

“My suggestion is that for two years after retirement there should be a gap (before appointment), because otherwise the government can directly or indirectly influence the courts and the dream to have a independent, impartial and fair judiciary in the country would never actualise.”

Reacting to Jaitley’s statements, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said, “rather than cast aspersions by insinuation, he should have the conviction of saying certain things squarely, if he knows them to be true”.

Being a former law minister, Jaitley should know that certain statutory bodies can only be headed by serving and retired judges, he said.

Jaitley also spoke in favour of creating a National Judicial Commission which would have representatives of the judiciary, government and society to look after matters related to appointments and complaints against judges.

“Now through judicial verdicts post retirement jobs are being created. My experience in this regard is quite bad. When I was a minister I would be wary while meeting a retiring judge that he should not hand me his bio data,” he said.

Criticising the process of appointment of judges, the BJP leader said, “There are two kinds of judges- those who know the law and those who know the law minister. Now we have established a system where judiciary has the last say. We are the only country in the world where judges appoint judges.

“The best are not willing to become judges. This is the second challenge,” he said.

On judicial activism, he said that courts should shed the mindset that they had to step in because other agencies were not doing their job. He said that courts could only direct others to do their duty.

“Courts can’t frame laws, courts can”t administer the state, courts can’t fight terrorism,” he said.

“I was reading a recent judgement,(what the government does we will see) that the a judge should be appointed in Information Commission and the present law should be changed. It is indirectly a direction to parliament… Something which is not acceptable on the concept of separation of powers,” Jaitley said.

The BJP leaders also attacked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) alleging that it worked under political pressure and said such officers should be taken to task.