SCBA President Adish C Aggarwala Writes Letter to PM Modi


Senior advocate Adish C Aggarwala has penned a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging for various amendments in the law, notably a mandatory two-year “cooling-off” period for judges before they can venture into politics.

Aggarwala, also the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), conveyed his requests in a personal capacity, citing concerns about safeguarding the independence of the judiciary.

Tribunals and Commissions

His propositions encompass “implementing appropriate amendments in statutes to facilitate the appointment of sitting judges rather than retired judges in tribunals and commissions” and “enhancing the retirement age of judges by three years”.

The letter highlighted that out of 21 judges who retired from the Supreme Court between 2008 and 2011, 18 secured roles in various commissions and tribunals.

“While the present Government has not instituted this system and is following the mechanisms envisaged by statutes passed during the earlier regime, there is a crying need to amend the statutes to change the eligibility requirement from a retired judge to sitting judges or practising lawyers,” it said.

Law Commission

Citing the 14th Law Commission of India report, Aggarwala asserts that post-retirement appointments for judges undermine judicial independence and diminish the judiciary’s dignity and status. He suggests raising the retirement age for Supreme Court judges to 68 years, for high court judges to 65 years, and for district court judges to 63 years. Doing so, he argues, would alleviate case backlogs and reduce judicial expenditure.

Aggarwala’s letter proposed, “I respectfully suggest that the services of judges should be utilized effectively in courts for extended durations by elevating the retirement age of Supreme Court Judges from 65 years to 68 years and that of high court Judges from 62 years to 65 years. The retirement age of judges in the district courts may be increased from 60 years to 63 years.” This measure, he stated, would aid in addressing the backlog of cases and also “lower the judiciary’s expenditure burden on the taxpayers by at least twenty percent.”

The letter noted that when a judge resigned or retired and promptly entered active politics, it was liable to undermine public confidence in the judiciary’s ability to administer justice impartially.

“Regrettably, instances of former judges entering the political arena have been observed on multiple occasions in India,” it stated.

“The timing is opportune for your government to contemplate enacting a law to prohibit former judges from participating in political activities for a minimum of two years immediately after stepping down from office as a cooling-off period,” the letter appended.

It indicated that there existed certain “disgruntled elements” who vocally protested when cases concerning corruption by political figures were addressed.

Moreover, Aggarwala criticizes advocates who make contemptuous statements against the courts, stressing the importance of upholding professional ethics and respecting judicial institutions.

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