Hon'ble Judge(s): Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud, V. Ramasubramanian, Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha , JJJAll India Judges Association v. Union of India
D.O.D : 19/05/2023
Constitution of India , Art.21, Art.50— Service conditions of judicial officers of District Judiciary - Updation/upgradation of - Principles which form foundation of judicial pay, pension and allowances, stated - Recommendations of the SNJPC considered and accepted - Directions issued for implementation of the same.
In the instant case , the Supreme Court was considering the report submitted by the Second National Judicial Pay Commission (SNJPC) containing recommendations regarding Pay Structure, Pension , Family Pension , Allowances and establishment of a permanent mechanism to determine subjects of service conditions of the District Judiciary.
The Court stated the principles evolved from consideration of three different Judicial Pay Commissions, which form the underpinning of judicial pay, pension and allowances. On the basis of said principles, recommendations made by the SNJPC were considered, accepted and consequent directions were issued for implementation of the same.
The principles on the basis of which the recommendations were considered are as follows -The first principle is that a unified judiciary requires uniform designations and service conditions of judicial officers across the country. The second principle is that the independence of the judiciary requires that pay of judicial officers must be stand-alone and not compared to that of staff of the political executive or the legislature. The third principle is that the independence of the judiciary, which includes the District Judiciary, is part of the basic structure of the Constitution. The fourth principle is that the access to an independent judiciary enforces fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution. The fifth principle is that the essential function of all judicial officers in the District Judiciary and judges of the High Court and Supreme Court is essentially the same.
The recommendations made by the SNJPC were considered and accepted by the Court. Consequent directions include the following - High Courts are directed to ensure uniform designations of judges across the country, in light of the pay matrix suggested by the SNJPC, as without uniform designations, issues may arise in the future for fitment of the different designations which are used in the different states. The pay matrix model, which was adopted by the 7th Central Pay Commission was adopted for Judicial Officers as well. The pay of judicial officers is increased commensurate to the pay of the Judges of High Courts and the Judiciary being independent from the Executive and as such, all aspects including pay cannot be based on the pay granted to the officers of the Executive Wing. The calculation of pension must notionally include the increment for the purposes of calculation of pension. As recommended by Commission, the formula and method to ensure that the migration from the master pay scale to the pay matrix system is smooth, is to be accepted. To achieve the goals of uniformity as well as efficiency, a uniform rate of Dearness Allowance at the rate fixed by the Central Govt. is to be fixed. The grant of 1st ACP to Civil Judge (Jr Div) be given on the basis of relaxed norms which may be devised by the High Courts. The Judges of the Family Court also be entitled to the benefit of Selection Grade and Super Time Scale as well on the principle of equal pay for equal work. The Minimum Remuneration to Special Judicial Magistrates (Second Class) and Special Metropolitan Magistrates is modified, as they cannot be considered as discharging judicial functions that are incomparable to regular Magistrates, hence, their financial independence is as much a part of judicial independence as is for regular Magistrates.
Directions were issued to carry out necessary amendments in Service Rules of the Judicial Officers across all jurisdictions . The High Courts and the competent authorities, wherever applicable, were directed to bring the rules in conformity with the recommendations within stipulated period and file the compliance affidavits .