The Union Cabinet on 26 December 2013 approved the constitutional status to a proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.
The status would ensure that composition of the commission cannot be altered through an ordinary legislation. A Parliamentary standing committee which examined the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 had also made a similar recommendation.
There were demands that the composition as well as the functions of the proposed JAC should be mentioned in the Constitution as a safeguard against future changes.
As per the proposal, Article 124 A of the Constitution of India will define the composition of JAC and Article 124 B will define its functions. At present the composition of the panel is defined in the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2013. It was introduced with a separate constitutional amendment bill in Rajya Sabha in August 2013.
The decision to make Judicial Appointments Commission was taken to do away the Collegiums System of Appointment of Judges that allows Judges to make their own appointments. As per the proposed Bill inclusion of two eminent persons in the six-member Judicial Appointments Commission is to happen instead of the two jurists. The decision was made to create a balance and avoid the extra weightage to judiciary in the body.
As per the new proposal the six members Judicial Appointments Commission would comprise of the Chief Justice of India, two Supreme Court judges, Union Law Minister and two eminent persons, instead of two jurists. To appoint the two eminent persons for the appointments commission would be done by the collegium that will include the Prime Minister of India, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India. The secretary of the Law Ministry will act as the convenor of the Judicial Appointment Commissions but not the member of the commission.
Main Points of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill 2013 are
• The JAC on creation will do away the collegium system of appointments to the High Courts and Supreme Courts
• The Article 124 (2) of the Constitution of India will be amended to give power to the President of India to appoint the Judges on the recommendation of the JAC
• The JAC will be determined by an ordinary law as per the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill 2013 introduced in the Parliament by UPA government
• Constitutional Amendment in the JAC’s term will require two-third majority for modification in the Parliament. The ordinary law requires a simple majority
Article 124(2) of the Constitution of India: In appointing the Judges of the Supreme Court, the President shall consult the Chief Justice of India and such other Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Court's as he may deem necessary.
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