The Supreme Court on 31 March 2014 held that the retirement benefits of the judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court drawn from the Bar must be same with the judges from subordinate courts.
A three- judge bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana gave the judgement that all the judges must be paid the same pensions, irrespective of the source from where the judges are drawn (from among district judges or from among lawyers).
In other words, judges must be paid the same pension just as they have been paid same salaries and allowances and advantage as serving judges.
When persons holding Constitutional office retire from service, making discrimination in the fixation of their pensions depending upon the source from which they were appointed is in breach of Articles 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution. Also it adversely affects the image of the judiciary which comes in the way of quality of justice as capable lawyers do not show inclination towards judgeship.
The bench directed the government to amend the rules with effect from 2004. The pension for judges drawn from the Bar and served for less than 12 years on the bench should not be any discrimination with regards to the fixation of their pension. The court directed one rank one pension must be the norm in respect of a Constitutional Office of judges.
The Court also said that when a Civil Servant retires from service, the family pension is fixed at a higher rate whereas in the case of Judges of the High Court, it is fixed at a lower rate. No discrimination can be made in the matter of payment of family pension also.
The Judgement is delivered in the backdrop of petitions filed by the former judges of the higher judiciary alleging discrimination as the years served by them at Bar are not considered in grant of pension where as those elevated from subordinate courts get the benefit of their service duration.