SC rejects retirement scheme for judges

Full-court calls judges’ meet in March

Kathmandu, January 12:

The Supreme Court today rejected the government’s proposal to introduce Voluntary Retirement Scheme in the judiciary.

Stating that the scheme did not offer an ‘attractive package’ and that introducing it by amending the existing acts would not be suitable, a full court meeting of the SC justices suggested the government to adopt such a policy while promulgating the new constitution.

The full court meeting unanimously questioned the motive of the government behind offering

retirement package when there was a shortage of judges in the three-tier judiciary. The meeting labelled the scheme as ‘strange’.

“Why did the government think of giving retirement to judges while it has got vacancies to fill?” a justice questioned, requesting anonymity.

“The bill on the scheme itself is not clear on providing retirement incentives for judges,”

he said, adding that the full court would reconsider its decision if the government forwarded a modified bill.

Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri had called the full court meeting after the government forwarded the bill to the apex court seeking its opinion on it a few weeks ago.

Through an amendment on the Supreme Court Justices’ Remuneration, Service Condition and Allowances Act, 1969, and Appellate Court

and District Court Judges’ Remuneration, Service Condition and Allowances Act, 1991, the government had taken the initiative to introduce VRS in the judiciary.

According to Section 5 (I) of the bill, the apex court judges attaining 62 years of age and meeting the pension criteria would be entitled to enjoy the scheme. The government also plans to apply the scheme for appellate and district court judges who are 60 years of age and who meet the pension criteria.

The Ministry of Law has also sought suggestions from the Finance Ministry regarding the financial burden to the government while adopting the scheme. It has also sought the Judicial Council’s advice.

Saying that the independence of the judiciary was at risk, the full court meeting also decided to call a conference of judges in March to deliberate on the independence of the judiciary in the changed context.

“The conference will also discuss a code of conduct for judges, besides reviewing the five-year strategic plan,” a source added.