POST RETIREMENT APPOINTMENTS…?

Post superannuation appointment of various retired officials to different jobs especially significant ones by the government has come under fire from various circles and no consensus seems to have been reached on the issue till date. However, in this regard there have been most extensive debates by the eminent experts in the legal fraternity belonging to both Bar and Bench. In this context it is pertinent to mention here that the learned Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal who is one of the few Attorney Generals who have taken a principled stand against the Government of India in deciding the strategy for briefs he argues, exactly in synchronization with the exalted values and traditions set forth by the first Attorney General of India, MC Setalvad has cleared the cobweb of doubts and confusions by emphatically disagreeing with the growing demand amongst the legal fraternity and the public at large against judges accepting post-retirement jobs. He has quite rightly termed the demand akin to putting years of worthy experience in vain if they were not to accept post-retirement jobs besides questioning the as to how Tribunals and Commissions would function in the absence of retired judges. To counter this he suggested the raising of their retirement age and remuneration manifold. Undoubtedly there is a substantial section in the legal fraternity which holds that the views presented by the Attorney General merit a degree of discussion. Although some lawyers term Venugopal’s argument in this regard as a primary grouse but the reality is that he has without mincing words succeeded in explaining that judges, at the age of retirement have several good years left ahead of them which must be put to best use within the third branch of government itself. However the other side of the coin can’t be left untouched before arriving at a feasible conclusion. From the perspective of public perception on independence of the judiciary and judicial bias aside, the primary fact remains that judges who seek post-retirement jobs may seek to ingratiate themselves to their future employers i.e. the Government. While this argument carries substance, at the same time it needs to be realized that there would be least chance of such eventuality when both, those appointed post-retirement as well as those at the helm of affairs of governance display utmost integrity of character. The question of appearances and perception must rule from front and centre. The practice followed by high Constitutional functionaries must not suffer from an infirmity this grave, which allows for even the distinct possibility of a judge acting in an unseemly manner. Moreover, it is an undeniable fact that certain crooked and canny politicians make the things messy and all the more worse especially those in opposition who often resort to political criticism of the post retirement appointees to satiate their vested interests by casting aspersions and insinuations on the government as well as the judges who accept these jobs immediately on retirement. They forget that they must follow constitutional propriety by respecting the Courts, the Judicial system, and the judgments and orders passed by these judges while in office. Issues of propriety also flare up in cases of purely political appointments when a judge on retirement becomes Governor. Medical science has improved to a degree that the general populace is strongly in command of faculties after sixty right upto seventy years and in view of this the experience of the experts can’t be allowed to go waste. Since the debate on the issue is still in process only time will decide which way the wind blows.