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Plea to Ensure OROP for Retired Judges

Plea to Ensure OROP for Retired Judges

A former Madras High Court judge has approached the Supreme Court for implementation of the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) norm for retired High Court judges, saying there is disparity in the pension paid to those appointed from the Bar and those promoted from the subordinate judiciary.

Retired Madras High Court judge, Justice M. Vijayaraghavan, has sought a direction from the Court to the Centre to evolve a formula “to obviate the disparities in the pension payable to judges drawn from subordinate judiciary and the judges drawn from the Bar in tune with ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) norms laid down by the Supreme Court in the 2014 judgment in Ramakrishnam Raju’s case.”

The petition quotes the 2014 judgment, observing that “when persons holding constitutional office retire from service, making discrimination in the fixation of the pensions depending upon the source from which they were appointed is in breach of Article 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution of India. One Rank, One Pension must be the norm in respect of a constitutional office.”

In fact, this 2014 judgment was based on complaints from retired judges that pension for those appointed directly from the Bar was less than that of counterparts promoted from the subordinate judiciary.

The 2014 judgment had led to the High Court and the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Act, 2016. This law amended provisions in the High Court Judges Act of 1954 and the Supreme Court Judges Act of 1958.

However, the petition, filed through advocate B. Balaji, contends that the amended law “highly discriminates” between high court judges drawn from the subordinate judiciary and judges drawn from the Bar in many respects relating to retirement pension.

Creates discrimination

Justice Vijayaraghavan, who retired in November 2013, contended that when “there is no difference in the pay, allowances and perks between judges irrespective of the number of years of service put in and irrespective of the source from where they were drawn, it is highly unreasonable to make a classification between the judges drawn from the Bar and judges drawn from the subordinate judiciary for the purpose of pension, thereby creating discrimination”.

“The formula for calculating the pension as per the amended act is unreasonable, discriminatory,” the petition said.

The petition also asked the Supreme Court to take the initiative to declare the provisions relating to pensions payable to retired high court judges in the 1954 Act as a “null and void” and rectify all the anomalies in the Act.

Source: The Hindu