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Rajya Sabha discusses the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021, and returns it to Lok Sabha

Parliament has passed the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2021 with the Rajya Sabha returning it to the Lok Sabha after the discussion. As it was a money bill therefore the bill has been returned to the Lower House.

The Lok Sabha has already passed it. The Bill seeks to amend the High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1954, and the Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act, 1958.

The Bill clarifies that a person will be entitled to the additional pension or family pension from the first day of the month in which they complete the minimum age under the concerned age bracket.

The scale contains five age brackets with a minimum age of 80, 85, 90, 95, and 100 years, and the additional quantum increases with age from 20 percent to 100 percent of the pension or family pension.

Replying to a debate on the bill in the Rajya Sabha, Union Minister for Law and Justice said that the government will leave no unturned in strengthening the judicial system of the country. He informed that the government has approved the  Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) for Development of Infrastructure Facilities for Judiciary for a further five years from 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2026 at a total cost of nine thousand crore rupees.

He said, the scheme will help construct court halls and residential units for judicial officers of District and Subordinate Courts, Lawyer Halls, and toilet complexes. Mr Rijiju said that  90 percent of the pending cases are at Subordinate Courts which needs to be strengthened.

He said, the issue of infrastructure development in High Courts and Subordinate Courts lies in the domain of State governments.   Law Minister said that under second phase of E-Court, the work of computerization in 18 thousand 735 District and Subordinate Courts have been completed.

Besides, citizen-centric services are also available on 7 platforms like E- courts service portal, e-courts mobile, and Justice App so that they can know about the status of their cases. He said, version- 3 of e-filling has also been rolled out so that people can avail the facilities at their doorstep.

Mr Rijiju said the issue of undertrials who are languishing in jails beyond the stipulated time is also a matter of concern. He said, he has decided to request the State governments and will also write to the Chief Justice of High Courts to provide free legal aid to these unfortunate undertrials. Mr Rijiju said that he has also decided   convene of meeting of all the Law Ministers of States in this regard.  On the issue of security of judges, he said as the law and order is the State Subjects but his Ministry has also taken the matter seriously. He said, the security of judges is very important and it is the duty of the government to provide a secure environment to the Judges.

Earlier, Initiating the discussion on the bill, Dr Amee Yagnik of Congress raised the issue of big pendency of cases in various courts. She said, various posts of judges are also lying vacant in different courts due to which there are pendency of cases.

She drew the attention of Law Minister Kiren Rijiu to look into the matter and take necessary steps in this regard. Ms. Yagnik also suggested that instead of bringing a bill regarding salary there should be an automatic system through which such issue can be taken up. Ramkumar Verma of BJP said that the bill is important as it is related to the judiciary.

He said, there is a need of social and economic justice as well as speedy clearance of cases pending at different levels.  P Wilson of DMK supported the bill as the hard work put in by the judges are extraordinary. He also said that in view of large pendency of cases, the retirement age of High Court Judges should be increased from present 62 years to 65 years and in case of Supreme Court Judges, the retirement age should be increased from 65 to 70 years.

Sasmit Patra of BJD said that there is a need to provide and use regional languages at the lower courts so that the common can have access to justice and is able to understand justice in layman terms. He also raised the issue of pendency of cases in Courts. Members from other political parties also participated in the discussion including YSRCP, RJD, AAP, and NCP.

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