Sibal mislead House into passing bill: Opposition - The New Indian Express

Sibal mislead House into passing bill: Opposition

Published: 08th September 2013 10:23 AM

Last Updated: 08th September 2013 10:23 AM

Law Minister Kapil Sibal was on Saturday forced to tender an apology in the Rajya Sabha for getting the Upper House pass the Constitutional Amendment Bill that seeks replace to the collegium system of appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary, passed in the Lok Sabha in “haste”, by “giving an impression” that the Lower House too would follow suit.

Elders in the main opposition benches said Sibal had “misled’’ the Upper House into passing the bill instead of sending it to the Standing Committee as desired by a majority of the members.

It is, in fact, it’s a two-part bill: the Constitutional Amendment (over which the confusion was) and which seeks to replace the collegium system and paves the way for the second one, the bill on Judicial Appointment Commission to recommend appointments and transfer of judges to the Supreme Court and 24 High Courts across the country.

The second bill which defines the JAC has already been referred to the Standing Committee. The first-part, which is the Constitutional Amendment Bill, was pushed through by the government which tried to get it approved in Parliament this session itself. But Leader of Opposition, Sushma Swaraj, nixed the move in the Lok Sabha on Friday.

The Law Minister tried to explain away by citing an innocuous error that crept into the bill. Instead of being named the 99th Constitutional Amendment Bill, Sibal said, it got passed in RS as the 120th amendment.

The Secretariat, Sibal said, realised the error and informed the Chairman (Rajya Sabha) who corrected the error immediately and conveyed it to Lok Sabha. The Bill, he said, was already ready for passage. Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Kamal Nath, too earlier said the Bill could not be passed in the Lower House due to a “patent and technical error”.

But the BJP used the opportunity to attack the government. BJP Deputy Leader in RS Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Home work was not done. We were misled into passing it. The minister has committed a mistake, he should feel sorry for his act.” It was on the BJP’s demand that the Law Minister later apologised to the House.

When the Bill was passed in the RS, the BJP had staged a walkout, asking for it to be referred to the Standing Committee on Law. Prasad said the majority had wanted the Parliamentary Committee to look into the Bill. Thus embarrassed by the Opposition on the last day of the Monsoon session, government sources said the BJP was reluctant to pass the judiciary related bill before the elections and it got stuck due to internal dissension within the main opposition party. Not their fault!

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