The salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts are set to rise three-fold with Parliament approving a bill in this regard on Tuesday.
The high court and Supreme Court Judges (Salaries and Conditions of Service) Amendment Bill, 2008 was passed by Rajya Sabha. It was approved by the Lok Sabha last week.
The bill proposes to increase the salary of the Chief Justice of India from Rs 33,000 to Rs 1,00,000 per month and that of other apex court judges from Rs 30,000 to Rs 90,000 per month.
It seeks to increase the salary of the Chief Justice of high courts from Rs 30,000 to Rs 90,000 per month and that of the HC judges from Rs 26,000 to Rs 80,000 per month.
Replying to the debate on the bill, law minister H R Bhardwaj said the services of judges should not be measured in terms of salary they receive.
He also said the Sixth Pay Commission made new provisions for the salary and allowances of civil servants and that the salary of judges needs to be revised accordingly.
"This is a nominal increase considering the dignity of the office of judiciary. This is a token increase after the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations," he said.
Initiating the debate, Arun Jaitley of Bharatiya Janata Party said that he supported the Bill but wanted changes in the appointment procedure of the judges and also a system to look into the allegations of misdemeanour by judges as 'impeachment is used in the rarest of rare cases'.
Jaitley claimed that the collegium system in the appointment of judges has not been able to improve the quality and favoured devising a criteria for the purpose.
"Discretion of the collegium (in appointment of judges) could be restricted through legislative procedure," he said, adding, "there has to be a threshold and a criteria on which a judge is appointed".
Shantaram Naik of Congress also said there should be a criterion for appointment of judges to bring transparency.
P R Rajan of Communist Party of India-Marxist said that in India, the appointment of judges is not open to public scrutiny.
"Perhaps it is in India alone that judges appoint judges," he said seeking more accountability and transparency in the appointment procedure.
P J Kurien of Congress said that none of the institutions in a parliamentary democracy should cross the 'laxaman rekha'.
"But in certain judicial pronouncements it has been done. . .Like observations that all politicians are corrupt".
He also sought a review of the current practice of judges appointing judges.
Calling for setting up of a National Judicial Commission, Ram Jethmalani said integrity of judges is increasingly being questioned.
"I would like to ask whether the selection process of judges takes into account their merits? Judges who have not even tried simple cases, are passing sentences of life and death," he said.
Jethmalani said it is the duty of the Bar to expose 'corrupt' judges but lamented that nobody has the 'courage' to do so.
D Raja of Communist Party of India said judiciary should be more 'humane' towards the poor 'who are kept in prolonged detention sometimes for no fault of theirs'.
"Judges should have integrity and should not suppress dissent as it is the fundamental right of the common man to protest," Raja said.
Calling for judicial reforms, he said it was high time that these were implemented and judges held accountable.
"Judges should also disclose their assets as I think there is no harm in doing so. This should not be an issue of debate. Also, judiciary should represent all strata of society," he said.