NEW DELHI: At least four retired judges have been appointed to constitutional posts by the ruling NDA but some of its top ministers had sung a different tune when the BJP was in the Opposition in 2012-2013.
Back then, Arun Jaitley – now Finance Minister -- had opposed post-retirement jobs for judges. “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,” he had said.
“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.”
However, since the Modi regime came to power in 2014, former CJI Sathasivam has been appointed the Kerala Governor while H L Dattu has been made the NHRC Chairman. Retired Supreme Court judge B S Chauhan is the Chairman of the Law Commission while former Delhi High Court Chief Justice G Rohini is the Chairperson of the OBC sub-categorisation commission.
The appointments have reinforced the perception that political parties brazenly change their stance once they come to power.
Earlier, Jaitley had said: “There are two kinds of judges -- those who know law and those who know the law minister... Retired judges must remember that the rental for occupying a Lutyens bunglow post retirement has to be political neutrality, not political participation.”
He added it was important that the judiciary keeps a distance from electoral circumstances of the day. “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.”
Nitin Gadkari – now Minister for Road and Transport – had expressed similar views then. “For two years after retirement, there should be a gap. Otherwise, the government can directly or indirectly influence the courts and the dream to have an independent, impartial and fair judiciary ... would never actualise.”