Many murmurs have been heard regarding the landmark decision of the Supreme Court granting pension to Judges of the High Court elevated from the bar at par with those who are elevated from judicial service. Some have remarked that the judges have granted themselves the benefit of “one rank one pension”.
This is pure negative appreciation of the subject and also not in the correct perspective.
Many would not know the genesis of the issue. Judges of our High Courts who are elevated from the bar face acute discrimination vis-a-vis those appointed from the quota of judicial service/district judges. So much so, that Judges elevated after long standing practice at the bar and with long service on the Bench were getting much lower pensions than those Judges who were from the quota of judicial service and who may have spent a minuscule period on the Bench as compared to the former. This discrimination was unique to High Court judges and this is what was the source of the controversy before the Supreme Court and has consequently been struck down.
Also, as is well known, for post-2006 pensioners the system of linkage of length of service with amount of pension has been abrogated for all central government employees and they are now entitled to 50% of basic pay drawn at the time of retirement as their pension as soon as they complete the requisite qualification of earning a pension under the rules, irrespective of the length of service. Prior to 2006 of course there was a requirement of 33 years’ service for earning full pension. However, what is not known to the public at large is the fact that the said stipulation of abrogation of linkage of length of service with amount of pension was not graciously extended to High Court judges and the pension of High Court judges, including those retiring after 01-01-2006, was linked with the years on the bench, which of course was discriminatory on the face of it.
Yes, the Supreme Court has remarked that there should be one-rank one-pension for pensioners retiring from constitutional posts also. And why not? Officers of the rank of Secretary to Govt of India and above on the civil side and Officers of the rank of Lt Gen (Army Commander grade) and above on the military side who retire from a fixed scale are in receipt of one-rank one-pension by default, so why not High Court judges who are in the same pay-grade and actually placed on a higher article in the Warrant of Precedence?
A very fine judgement that should pave way for resolution of anomalies for other categories of pensioners.