Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra demits office today though his actual retirement date is October 2nd. Let us hope he does not follow in the steps of a former Chief Justice of India P. Sathasivam who within weeks of his retirement was rewarded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with an appointment on 31st August 2014 as the Governor of Kerala.
As a desperate BJP wants to overpower the Judiciary too, there is a very disturbing disquiet over the slippery slope on which judicial values are slithering. With Narendra Modi all out to corrode and corrupt even the Independence of the Judiciary, to ensure the highest standards of judicial independence and to ward off even the faintest trace of governmental influence on the judiciary, there needs to be at least a two year “cooling off period” for retiring judges before they accept any post retirement posting.
As judicial independence of Judges rests entirely on maintaining an incorruptible detachment from the government of the day, it cannot be allowed to be morally compromised by lobbying for cushy post-retirement sinecure postings. We have witnessed instances where Judges have fixed their retirement nests much prior to even demitting office.
In times when the Indian Judiciary is passing through a very turbulent phase, this “jobs-for-the-judges” syndrome could place judges potentially open to governmental influence leaving scope for “pre-retirement judgments” being predisposed by the craving of a “post-retirement job”.
A former Chief Justice of India Justice R M Lodha led by example that judges should not take any constitutional or other position at least two years after demitting office. The Constitution of India is very clear on the distinct roles of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. It envisages a free, fair and independent Judiciary. The highest standards of judicial independence must be ensured by warding off even the faintest trace of governmental influence on the judiciary.
The demand to keep Supreme Court and High Court Judges away from immediately taking such post retirement benefits becomes the need of the hour and will thus ensure that those about to retire, do not run behind those in the establishment thus giving a death knell to the independence of the judiciary. There is a need of concerted efforts towards propping up highest standards of judicial accountability.
The Judiciary should never be manned by persons who are tilted or aligned to any political party. Judges should have the spine to crack on illegalities done by all politicians, regardless of how high positions they hold. It has to be ensured that judicial accountability is maintained at all times with every Judge conforming to the highest standards of uprightness and integrity. If Judges cannot independently balance the scales of Justice, the Temples of Justice become pointless ending up as dens of chicanery and jugglery.