The decision was taken at the Cabinet meeting held here Thursday.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday gave its nod for conferring constitutional status to the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.

The government had earlier accepted the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, which recommended that the structure and functions of the JAC to replace the present collegium system be governed by a constitutional provision.

According to the proposal approved by the Cabinet, while new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of the JAC, Article 124 B will define its functions.

‘All demands satisfied’

“We have made compromises to make the Bill palatable to all. We have satisfied all demands. The JAC Bill, 2013 with official amendments will be tabled in the Lok Sabha now,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.

The constitutional amendment Bill has to be passed in Parliament by two-third majority.

The JAC Bill seeks to set up a six-member body under the chairmanship of the Chief Justice of India for recommending names to the President of individuals with outstanding legal acumen and impeccable integrity and credibility for judgeship in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. It would also recommend transfer of judges of one High Court to another.

The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013, provides for setting up of a Judicial Appointments Commission by inserting Article 124 (A) in the Constitution and amending Articles 124(2), 217(1) and 222(1). The structure and functions of the proposed commission are provided in the JAC Bill.

The parliamentary panel had said: “The present process adopted by the collegium of judges is beset with its own problem of opacity and non-accountability besides excluding the Executive entirely in the collaborative and consultative exercise for appointment of judges to a Bench of the higher judiciary. Because of its inherent deficiencies in the collegium, as many as 275 posts of judges in various High Courts are lying vacant, which has a direct bearing on the justice delivery system and thereby affecting the judiciary.”

Amendments

The committee, while suggesting amendments to the Bill, said there should be three eminent persons in the commission, instead of two as provided for in the present Bill, and at least one out of them should be an SC/ST/OBC/woman/minority, preferably by rotation.

Considering the responsibility of the JAC to select 800-odd judges to 24 High Courts, and also the fact that constitutional and other functionaries are involved at the State-level in the process of appointment, it suggested State-level commissions also.

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