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Supreme Court directs Chief Secretaries of all States/UTs to either pay pension to district judges at revised rates or face contempt of court

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The Supreme Court warned the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories on Thursday that contempt of court action would be taken against them, if they failed to comply with its earlier order to pay pension to district judges at revised rates from July 1 onwards.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra noted that despite this Court’s May 19 verdict, certain States and Union Territories had not complied with the directions wholly or partly and practiced wilful breach and non-compliance of the orders of the court. 

The Apex Court, however, granted a final opportunity to the Chief Secretaries, directing them to effect the directions of the Apex Court on or before December 8, 2023.

The bench warned that if they failed to implement the order, the Chief Secretaries of all default States or Union Territories would be summoned to remain personally present before this court on December 8. It further directed them to file the compliance affidavit before the next date of hearing.

The Bench further clarified that compliance would mean actually crediting the revised pension amounts to the bank accounts of judicial officers or their surviving spouses.

The matter was led by Senior Advocate Gourab Banerji and filed by Advocate-on-Record (AoR) Mayuri Raghuvanshi.

The Apex Court today called on all the High Courts to comply with its directions by December 31 and notify amendments to the service rules no later than by January 31, 2024.

On May 19, the Supreme Court had directed the High Courts and competent authorities to make necessary amendments to service rules in conformity with certain recommendations accepted by the Court. This was to be done in the next three months. The order was passed on a plea to update the service conditions of judicial officers.

The Bench had further directed that revised rates of pension that were approved by the Court should be paid to retired judicial officers with effect from July 1, 2023.

It also ordered that the number of posts of district judges shall be increased to 35 per cent, as compared to the existing 25 percent of cadre strength.

The Bench further took up the issue on whether pension of judicial officers based on the contributory scheme affected the financial dignity of the officers. The matter will be heard next in the third week of January 2024.

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