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SC judges must get minimum 7-8 yrs tenure: Justice Rao

By Mahesh Limbani May 21, 2022

SUPREME COURT Judge Justice L Nageswara Rao on Friday said those elevated as judges to the top court must get a “minimum 7-8 years” in office “if not 10 years” so as to get the best out of them.

“Judges who come here from High Courts, the average time they get is 4-5 years… By the time they come here and adjust to the court work here… it takes them 1.5 to 2 years to understand how the court functions here, because it is completely different from the High Courts,” he said, adding that by the time they settle down, “they are looking at their retirement”.

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“Even to head a bench it takes that much time. Nobody starts heading a bench for about two years. So the time to really contribute to the march of law, they get a very short period,” Justice Rao said, speaking at the farewell organised for him by the Supreme Court Bar Association.

Elevated to the bench directly from the Bar in May 2016, Justice Rao said, “Judging is a completely different art… to get used to that art, it takes at least three years time. And when we are fully prepared, it is time to go.”

“So my suggestion is that judges who are coming to the Supreme Court should have a minimum 7-8 years if not 10 years, whether you increase the age or not. Only then you will get the best out of the person who is working here as a judge,” he said, responding to Attorney

General K K Venugopal’s remarks that 65 years is no age for a judge to retire.

The Attorney General has for long been a votary for increasing retirement age of judges.

“I have been here for six years. But with every day my confidence that I have control over the court, and then control over whatever is happening in the court, increases. I’m pretty comfortable now with the court. But I’m gone. This is something which I think needs consideration by whoever is competent to take decisions,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana threw light on Justice Rao’s career and pointed out that as a two-time Additional Solicitor General, he was “one of the most hardworking and dedicated ASGs of the country”.

He was also a member of the Mudgal Committee appointed by the court to probe into allegations of corruption against the BCCI and spot fixing in the IPL.

Referring to his elevation directly from the Bar, the CJI said he was only the seventh person to have the distinction.

“As a judge, Brother Nageswara Rao played a vital role in expounding the law and interpreting the Constitution in several noteworthy opinions. He has authored several landmark decisions during his time on the bench,” he said.

Justice Rao will retire on June 7. However, the farewell was planned early as the summer recess for the court started Friday.

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