Responding to the request of Justice Kurian Joseph, who sought a revision of the Leave Travel Concession rules for Supreme Court judges, the government has written back asking him if it is his personal view or the opinion of the apex court. The government is currently considering revising the salaries and allowances of judges bringing them on par with the seventh pay commission awarded to central staff. A Cabinet note had already been prepared on revision of salaries and other compensation to judges before the government received the LTC revision request from Justice Kurian.
The apex court judge had sought eight LTCs to SC judges in a year as against three they get annually at present. According to the rules governing LTCs for judges, SC judges get same benefit as a secretary-level IAS officer, only that they get three in a year against the bureaucrats entitlement of two in a block of four years. Of the two LTCs applicable to bureaucrats in four years, one is restricted to travel to home-town and the second is for a visit anywhere in India with wife and dependent children. In addition to air travel expenses, the LTC rules provide for 10 days additional pay with a certain number of LTCs, which, according to the revised seventh pay commission, could go up to Rs 75,000.
The purpose of writing back to Justice Kurian is to ascertain if the request made by him is an order of the apex court or just a personal request made by a judge. Any enhancement of LTCs granted to judges will have significant monetary implication for the government. Justice Kurian had argued that judges who do not belong to Delhi need to travel often to their home town and that they should be given at least five more LTCs restricted only to permanent residence (home LTC) because of family commitments.
The emoluments of the SC judges are also likely to be revised soon. Currently, the Chief Justice of India is the highest-paid functionary in the judiciary with monthly salary of Rs 1 lakh, excluding dearness and other allowances. This is likely to be raised to Rs 2.8 lakh, in addition to perks such as official residence, cars and allowances as applicable.
As carried in TOI on 18/9/2017