NEW DELHI: The Centre is all set to seek the views of jurists and former judges on the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission Bill that would replace the existing collegium system.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad would convene a meeting on Monday to elicit the views of the experts in this regard. He had already written to leaders of major political parties, seeking their views and support for the new legislation.
The move comes in the wake of claims that the previous UPA regime had nudged the Supreme Court Collegium to recommend an extension for a Madras High Court judge, who was under corruption cloud.
The decision to fast-track the Bill also comes close on the heels of a controversy courted by the Centre’s decision to return the Supreme Court Collegium’s recommendation for appointment of senior lawyer Gopal Subramanium as an apex court judge.
The Narendra Modi Government, however, is not averse to the UPA plan to put the composition and functions of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in the Constitution. A Constitutional Amendment Bill requires two-thirds majority for passage in Parliament, while a normal legislation needs just a simple majority.
The UPA Bill had proposed that the Commission be headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) with two senior judges of the apex court, two eminent persons and the Law Minister as its members. The Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry was to be the convener. It had also suggested that the two eminent persons be selected by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister, the CJI and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
After ratification, the government sends the Bill to the President for his approval.
The practice of judges appointing judges started after 1993, replacing the system of government picking judges for higher judiciary, including the Supreme Court and High Courts. The move to set aside the 1993 Supreme Court judgment, which resulted in the Collegium System, requires a Constitutional amendment.