Post-retirement life for Supreme Court judges is going to get better

A key change in the Supreme Court Judges Rules of 1959 gives a Chief Justice rent-free accommodation for six months after retirement.

ByVasu Gandikota

Published Aug 23, 2022 | 6:07 PMUpdatedAug 24, 2022 | 5:59 PM

Supreme Court

As if post-retirement plum positions, which had come in for criticism from many quarters as influencing the conduct of judges while in office, were not enough, the Union government on Tuesday, 23 August, made further amendments to the Supreme Court Judges Rules of 1959.

According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Law & Justice, the key change relates to rent-free accommodation for a Chief Justice for six months from the date of retirement.

Those in the know of rules governing Supreme Court judges said this is the first time ever that a retired Chief Justice of India is being provided with such a facility.

The changes made to Rule 3 (b), in sub-rule (3), state that “a retired Chief Justice shall be entitled to a rent-free Type – VII accommodation in Delhi (other than the designated official residence) for a period of six months from the date of retirement”.

Justice NV Ramana

Incumbent Chief Justice NV Ramana. (Creative Commons)

Information gathered by South First suggested that the changes were made to facilitate the allotment of government accommodation to Chief Justice NV Ramana, who is retiring on 26 August. Whether he made a formal request in this regard or the government was seeking to provide accommodation on its own is, however, not known.

Justice Ramana has become popular for having expounded on Constitutional values and liberties and the need to protect them at almost every seminar or meeting he had attended ever since he occupied the top position last year.

But he had also come in for criticism over the apex court not showing the same commitment in regard to matters that came up before it.

Retired Supreme Court judges to whom South First spoke said that at no point in the past had any retired Chief Justice been given a government accommodation unless they picked up another position by virtue of which they are entitled to one.

They recalled that eminent jurists like Justice MN Venkatachalaiah, who served from 12 February, 1993, to 24 October, 1994, and Justice JS Verma, who served from 25 March, 1997, to 18 January, 1998, had vacated their official residence on the very day of their retirement.

Since the rules have now been changed, it is being assumed that there is no immediate plan, at least, for a post-retirement position for Justice Ramana, though speculation is rife that he could be considered for one at some point.

Supreme Court Notification

The notification on the changes to the Supreme Court Judges Rules. (Supplied)

According to the other changes made to the Supre Court rules, a retired Chief Justice or retired judges shall now be entitled to a security cover round the clock at their residence, in addition to round-the-clock personal security for a period of one year from the date of retirement.

Another change permits the deployment of a chauffeur (equivalent to the level of chauffeur in the Supreme Court) and a secretarial assistant (equivalent to the level of a branch officer in the apex court). This is for a period of one year from the date of retirement.

A retired Chief Justice or retired judge shall be “entitled to protocol to extend courtesies at ceremonial lounges at airports”, according to the new rules.

When in the Opposition, BJP leaders were sharply critical of Supreme Court judges being accommodated in various positions.

The late Arun Jaitley wondered how one could expect them to function independent of the executive if the lure of post-retirement jobs remained.