Bar Council of India plea comes as CJI Dipak Misra, who has overseen several landmark judgments such as decriminalising homosexuality, retires Tuesday.
New Delhi: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has urged outgoing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who retires Tuesday, not to accept any offer of a post-retirement job from the government.
In a four-page missive, BCI president Manan Kumar Mishra has urged CJI Misra to take a cue from Supreme Court judges Justices Jasti Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph, who have publicly declared that will not accept post-retirement jobs.
“The Bar Council of India feels that in the present scenario… the lead taken by Hon’ble Mr Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Hon’ble Mr Justice Kurien Joseph (sic) is a very healthy and welcome step, which would go a long way in promoting a healthy democracy in the country,” Mishra said in the release, issued Saturday.
Justice Chelameswar, who retired this June, and Justice Joseph, whose tenure ends next month, were among the four judges who held an unprecedented press conference in January to bare their anguish over CJI Misra’s alleged breach of institutional integrity.
“When a judge accepts any assignment after his retirement fingers are raised about the bona fides of this assignment,” Mishra added in the letter. “The case of Hon’ble Mr Justice P. Sathasivam, former Chief Justice of India who was appointed governor of Kerela (sic) after retirement, had generated much reaction.”
The Central governmnent’s decision to appoint Justice A.K. Goel as the chairman of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) hours after his retirement from the top court in July also drew much flak.
“…some powerful people, sitting in the government, (which is the largest litigant), have been controlling our judges by giving them assurances to keep them engaged after their superannuation,” wrote Mishra.
“And since the Bar is supposed to be the mouthpiece and voice of the people, the judiciary is being used to throttle and shut its mouth,” he added.
This concern, he said, was openly shared at a meeting involving bar associations and councils from across the country.
Mishra also sought to point out, without specifying which ones exactly, certain orders passed and suggestions made to the Law Commission “to destroy the independence of the Bar”.
“…The feeling of Bar was/is that such impractical, utopian orders are passed at the behest of some powerful people so that they could do anything, could make even anti-people or anti-lawyer draconian Laws; and Bar could be compelled to be a silent spectator,” he added.
Trend of post-retirement jobs
When the Central government announced Justice Goel’s appointment as NGT chairman, ThePrint tracked the post-retirement journey of Supreme Court judges whose term ended over the past decade.
Many of the 47 Supreme Court judges in question went on to take up post-retirement jobs. Of these, at least 26 accepted government jobs while 13 started practising law again. The status of six judges was unclear, while two declared that they will not accept post-retirement jobs.
The idea of retired judges taking up government postings has evoked much controversy over the years, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leading the charge against the trend while in opposition.
In 2012, senior party leaders Arun Jaitley and Nitin Gadkari, now union ministers, had suggested that the clamour for post-retirement jobs was affecting the court’s judgments.
However, the current NDA administration has not quite refrained from making job offers to retired judges, having appointed at least 12. The remaining 14 were appointed under UPA-I and II.
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