Report No. 232
1.6 There is an imperative need to fix the age of retirement of Chairpersons and Members of various Tribunals up to the age of 70 and 65, respectively.
1.7 It may be recalled that the retirement age of Central and State Government employees was first increased from 55 to 58 years and then from 58 to 60 years. For Judges of High Courts the retirement age was increased only once from 60 to 62 and for the Supreme Court Judges the retirement age since inception has been 65 years. Judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court retiring at the age of 62 and 65, respectively, need to have a substantial tenure in various Tribunals to which they are appointed after their retirement as in that event only they would be able to substantially improve upon the system.
If an incumbent is to retire within two-three years of his joining a Tribunal, then by the time he might have full acquaintance of its working he would be retired, surely then he shall not be able to contribute much in advancing and improving upon the working of the Tribunal.
1.8 For selection and appointment in Tribunals, a set procedure is prescribed where the time spent in inviting applications up to the selection and then clearance from the Government at various levels, is six months to a year. The past experience clearly shows that whenever eligibility for appointment as Chairpersons and Members of Tribunals includes former or sitting Judges of High Courts or the Supreme Court or Chief Justices of such Courts, there may be not more than 5-7 instances where the sitting Judges may have, during their tenure of service, opted 10to become Chairpersons or Members of Tribunals.
They seek consideration for such appointments either on the eve of their retirement or after their retirement, and if the period of selection and appointment would take time, they might not serve for more than .- 2&1/2 years, where the retirement age is 65 or 68 years.
1.9 A perusal of Appendix would manifest that by and large eligibility for appointment as Chairperson is of those who are or have been Judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts or Judges of High Courts, but the retirement age in different Tribunals is different viz. 65 years, 67 years, 68 years, and in some it is 70 years. There is no uniform prescription of age of retirement. Judges and Chief Justices of High Courts have the same retirement age i.e. 62 years. It is too well known that functions and duties carried out by the Judges at any level are the same.
There has already been a lot of debate as to whether the retirement age of the Supreme Court and High Court Judges should be the same for the precise reason that the functions and duties carried out by them are of the same nature and, therefore, if the age of retirement of a Supreme Court Judge is 65 years, the same should be so with regard to High Court Judges.
If the Judges or Chief Justices of the High Courts, who retire at the age of 62 years, wish to take up assignment in Tribunals, which is, as mentioned above, taken by them after their retirement, their work-period in Tribunals may be 2-3 years. Obviously, when Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed in any Tribunal, their retirement age must at the least be 70 years, their date of retirement as a Supreme Court Judge being 65 years.
A view has been expressed that there should also be no difference in the retirement ages for Chairpersons and Members, who come from the judicial stream i.e. High Courts or the Supreme Court, and it should uniformly be 70 years. A distinction may be made insofar as Members 11are concerned form another perspective. Members in Tribunals have two stream.- judicial and administrative.
The retirement age from the government, of those who join the administrative stream is 60 years and the term of 5 years as a Member of Tribunal may be sufficient in their case. However, no distinction can be made in the retirement age of the Member.- whether coming from judicial stream or administrative stream. Irrespective of the stream, the retirement age needs to be uniformly fixed. It may also be mentioned that whereas Judges are so many, Chief Justices of High Courts are few.
On number of occasions, appointments of Chairpersons had to wait for want of availability of the Chief Justices or Judges of the Supreme Court, but insofar as Judges of High Courts are concerned, there has been no problem of that kind. It would thus be expedient and in the fitness of things to have a uniform retirement age of Chairpersons of Tribunals as 70 years and uniform age of retirement of Members as 65 years.