The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Judges to move court over pay

Calcutta, April 13: For years, they held centrestage in courtroom, dispensing justice. Now, it’s their turn to sit on the other side, pleading with the court that justice be done to them.

Judges who have served in the West Bengal Judicial Service have now decided to haul the government to the Supreme Court for allegedly going against the court’s directive by not implementing recommendations of a commission set up to rationalise their pay and other benefits.

Several norms laid down by the first National Judicial Pay Commission, which the Supreme Court had asked every state government to implement before the start of this financial year, had been given a wide berth, alleged West Bengal Retired Judges’ Association vice-president Ranabir Mahapatra.

“Both serving and retired judges are paying for the government’s refusal to heed the norms,” he said today.

The association, which has more than 200 members, has decided to move the Supreme Court to draw its attention to the alleged flouting of the directives. “We will ask the court to slap a contempt notice on the state government,” Mahapatra said.

The West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) and the West Bengal Higher Judicial Service (Revision of Pay and Allowance) Act-2003 came into force earlier this month after the Bill was passed by the Assembly on March 31. It got Governor Viren J. Shah’s assent two days later.

Judges — both serving and retired — however, found the rules swerved off many of the recommendations of the Justice K.J. Shetty Commission that was set up in March 1996 to rationalise the pay of judges.

Initially, many state governments dilly-dallied with the implementation, forcing the apex court to issue a directive (last November) to enforce the commission’s recommendations before April 1, 2003.

“The court asked for a uniform implementation of the rules and decreed that there must be no difference between the scales implemented in one state and those in another,” Mahapatra said.

WBRJA president Monotosh Ray wrote a letter to the chief minister’s office last month, asking the government to ensure that the state’s judges were not denied in any way. “Unfortunately, there has been no response till date,” a senior association member said.

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