Union of India vs Justice (Retd) Raj Rahul Garg (Raj Rani Jain) 2024 INSC 219- High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act 1954

High Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Act 1954; Section 14 – A member of the Bar is entitled to the addition of ten years of service by virtue of the provisions of Section 14A. On the addition of the years of service, their pensionary benefits would be computed on the basis of the last drawn salary as a Judge of the High Court. A similar principle, as applicable to Judges appointed from the Bar, must be applied for computing the pension of a member of the district judiciary who is appointed to the High Court. Any other interpretation would result in a plain discrimination between the Judges of the High Court based on the source from which they have been drawn. Such an interpretation would do disservice to the importance of the district judiciary in contributing to the judiciary of the nation, and would be contrary to the overall scheme and intendment of Chapter III of the statute. It would go against the antidiscriminatory principles stipulated by this Court in so far as Judges drawn from various sources are concerned. (Para 30)

Judicial Service – Pensionary payments to Judges constitute a vital element in the independence of the judiciary. As a consequence of long years of judicial office, Judges on demitting office do not necessarily have the options which are open to members from other services. The reason why the State assumes the obligation to pay pension to Judges is to ensure that the protection of the benefits which are available after retirement would ensure their ability to discharge their duties without “fear or favour” during the years of judgeship. The purpose of creating dignified conditions of existence for Judges both during their tenure as Judges and thereafter has, therefore, a vital element of public interest. Courts and the Judges are vital components of the rule of law. Independence of the judiciary is hence a vital doctrine which is recognized in the constitutional scheme. The payment of salaries and dignified pensions serves precisely that purpose. Hence, any interpretation which is placed on the provisions of the Act must comport with the object and purpose underlying the enactment of the provision. (Para 25)

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