A parliamentary committee has urged the government to hike the retirement age of Supreme Court and high court judges to tide over their shortage in higher judiciary.
The parliamentary standing committee on law and personnel said that to reduce the pendency of cases, the existing vacancies for judges need to be filled up immediately. It said the vacancies arising in the future should be filled up "strictly" as per guidelines laid down by the apex court in a 1993 judgement.
It recommended that the retirement age of SC judges be raised to 67 years from the present 65 and that of HC judges to 65 from the present 62.
"... it feels that it would help in retaining the existing judges, which in turn would help in reducing both vacancy and pendency of cases in the short run," the panel said.
It expressed concern over a large number of vacancies of judges in the high courts.
"The vacancy of judges is very high in high courts of Allahabad (56), Karnataka (38), Calcutta ( 39), Punjab and Haryana (35), Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (30) and Bombay (24)," it said quoting law ministry data.
Amid an ongoing debate on vacancies in the higher judiciary, the government had last week said that there is no proposal to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years.
Responding to a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether any proposal for extension of retirement age of high court judges was under consideration by the government, Minister of State for Law P P Chaudhary had said on March 9 no such proposal was under consideration.
A bill brought by the previous UPA government in 2010 to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years had lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.
The Constitution (114th Amendment) Bill, 2010, which provided for increasing the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65 years, was introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 25. But it could not be taken up for consideration and passage, and it lapsed.
The UPA proposal had sought to bring at par the retirement age of high court judges with that of Supreme Court judges at 65 years.
The 24 high courts face a shortage of 406 judges, according to latest law ministry data.
Nearly three crore cases are pending in courts across India.