But, let us see what the Great Honourable Movers and Shakers have to say on this subject.
Delivering one of his finest speeches, way back in September 2012, the leader of opposition then, and now a Union minister Mr. Arun Jaitley had emphatically presented his point of view about the appointment of Judges after retirement. Following are pearls of His Excellency's wisdom:
"Pre-retirement judgements are influenced by a desire for a post-retirement job...But this clamour for post retirement jobs is adversely affecting impartiality of the judiciary of the country and time has come that it should come to an end. For two years after retirement, there should be a gap (before appointment), because otherwise the government can directly or indirectly influence the courts and the dream to have an independent, impartial and fair judiciary in the country would never actualize. The tendency of judges to follow the ballot box, to get carried with the times, has to be avoided. The judiciary is the lifeline of a democracy, and if people lose faith in it, they lose faith in democracy itself. Now through judicial verdicts post retirement jobs are being created. My experience in this regard is quite bad. When I was a minister I would be wary while meeting a retiring judge that he should not hand me his bio data. There are two kinds of judges- those who know the law and those who know the law minister," once Jaitley had said.
The Honourable Minister had reiterated the same sentiments in February 2013 when he questioned Justice Katju's criticism of Narendra Modi who was the CM of Gujarat in those days. "I have held a strong view that Judges of the Supreme Court and the High Courts must not be eligible for jobs in the government after retirement. In some cases the pre-retirement judicial conduct of a judge is influenced by the desire to get a post retirement assignment. However, we are still operating under a system where various tribunals and other quasi-judicial assignments are filled up with retired judges. Retired judges must remember that the rental for occupying a Lutyen's bunglow post retirement has to be political neutrality not political participation."
I don't think I need to add any of my comments as the latest gubernatorial appointment of former Chief Justice of India Palaniswamy Sathasivam as the new Governor of Kerala. The Honorable retired CJ is the exception being the only individual - the first former Chief Justice of India set to be appointed as Governor.
Some of his laudable judgments include one that scrapped a second FIR against Shah in the fake encounter case, saying it was linked to the bigger Sohrabuddin Sheikh killing case and did not need to be separate.
The Congress spokesman Anand Sharma diligently made a comment: "We expect judiciary to be committed to the government for political patronage post retirement." While the Congress has attacked the appointment and asked if he was being given the gubernatorial post for giving relief to the BJP President Amit Shah in a fake encounter case last year, it has also brought up the question of what the current finance and defence minister Arun Jaitley had said in the past about former judges and their post-retirement appointments to positions that could be considered political.
Why was he made the Governor of Kerala? This raises a question if he has done some work, for which the government is pleased? Is there anything in his persona, functioning or his decisions, which has really attracted very warmly, very positively, the acceptance of Prime Minister and BJP president. It is but natural that these questions would be asked.
The noted eminent jurist Fali S Nariman called the appointment as 'most improper and unfortunate'.
"I do not appreciate or approve of the idea of a former CJI, or a Judge of the Supreme Court, accepting a sinecure appointment, like that of a Governor. Judges seeking jobs or a seat in Parliament from the Executive gravely affects the concept of independence of the judiciary, proudly and repeatedly proclaimed- alas only by sitting Judges of the Supreme Court- as a basic feature of the Constitution," said Nariman as quoted by media.
According to former Chief Justice V N Khare, as reported by media, "Sathasivam's appointment has no precedent. No former CJI has ever been offered or accepted this post. If you create a precedent it may be followed. But if such a precedent is allowed to prevail, then this may open up more political intervention in the coming years."
Asked if he would advise Sathasivam against accepting the post, Khare said, "Why should I advise him? It depends on an individual's viewpoint. What I can say is that I would not have accepted such a post. I was never offered and would not have taken it either." He said a former CJI accepting such a post could lead to questions about his earlier judgements.
Former Supreme Court Judge K T Thomas said this could erode the public's confidence in the judiciary. "To sustain public confidence, at least a quarantine period of two years should be there," he said, adding that if such a post was offered to him, he would not accept it. "But this is my personal view. Any appointment should be commensurate with the work the Judge had done in the Supreme Court or High Court," he said.
Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan said Sathasivam's appointment would be "politically corrupt" if he had sought this favour during his tenure as CJI. "If he asked for this position while being a CJI, it is venal, and if he did so after his retirement, it is still very improper. An inquiry is to be made if had solicited this favour."
Now, Achche Din are there for many and I bear witness to that without glasses.
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