Lok Sabha clears bill to raise judges’ salaries (Lead)

February 19th, 2009 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The Lok Sabha Thursday passed a bill to hike salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts as Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj said India was proud of its independent judiciary.
“Parliament is the supreme institution. Judiciary is accountable to the constitution. But parliament can amend the constitution. There is no independence away from parliament,” Bhardwaj said before seeking the house’s approval for the High Court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2008.

“India is a proud democracy. Our judiciary is independent,” the minister said.

The bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December last year, was moved by Bhardwaj Thursday afternoon. The house passed the legislation by voice vote.

In January, the president gave her assent to an ordinance to increase the salary of the chief justice of India and judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts.

According to the revised figures, the Chief Justice of India will get a monthly salary of Rs.100,000, Supreme Court judges and high court chief justices would be paid Rs.90,000, and the high court judges Rs.80,000.

The minister said the passing of the bill to hike salaries of the judges was an urgent matter.

He said the judges did not voice their demands. “So we have to speak for them.”

Requesting the chief justices to report the vacancies of judges in time, he said: “If the vacancies are recommended in time, speed can be achieved.”

Bhardwaj said all sections of society, including women, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribe, should be represented in appointments of judges.

He said 440 judges were appointed during his tenure as law minister, compared to 60 during the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s term.

Bhardwaj noted a bill was pending in parliament regarding the impeachment of Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen.

Supreme Court Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan had recommended to the prime minister to remove Sen, who allegedly misappropriated Rs.3.2 million as a court-appointed receiver in 1993 in a lawsuit.

An inquiry committee found that Justice Sen deposited the amount in his personal bank account.

The law minister told the house: “You (the MPs) give me 100 signatures to introduce the bill (to impeach the judge).”

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