Supreme Court judges in November 2016 had passed a resolution gifting themselves with life-time domestic-help for self and spouses at public-expense. Reports indicated that such gifting was done because it does not look nice that retired judges of the top court queue up for depositing bills of essential services like water, telephone and electricity. In present era of online payments, no one needs to visit receipt-counters for making such payments. Moreover, retired judges have handsome pensions from which they can easily afford domestic help. Otherwise also most of them being from legal profession must have adequate savings from their earlier profession. By the time of their retirement, their children and even grand-children may be well set up to take care of daily needs of their parents except in exceptional cases where family-relations might have been disturbed. Above all, provision can be made whereby facility may be provided to retired judges of higher courts that registries of Supreme Court and High Courts may make payments of bills of essential services at their own out of their monthly pensions.
The unethical, immoral and unjustified practice was followed by Elections Commissioners which are at par with Supreme Court judges for service-matters. It may be that judges of some High Courts might have also affected similar facility for themselves. Since no one has the courage to file a writ challenging such practice, it is for Supreme Court judges that they themselves pass a resolution to withdraw facility of domestic help at public expense. Otherwise, the central government should write to Chief Justice of India against continuing such a practice. Central government should also make it clear about the rule which gives such a power to judges for deciding perks at government-expense after retirement. If any such rule exists, it should be withdrawn in view of above-referred misuse.
Best is to make a provision that all judges of Supreme Court and High Courts apart from persons holding top-most posts in legislature including President, Vice President, state-Governors and others may get pay, pension and other benefits equivalent to those of top-most bureaucrat i.e. Union Cabinet Secretary abolishing provision of separate legislation in this regard for selected categories.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)