The Centre is planning to revisit the 1993 Supreme Court judgment providing for the collegium system of judicial appointments, Law Minister Salman Khurshid said on Friday.
At an interaction with legal correspondents here, he said the Centre would soon bring in a Constitution amendment Bill to revisit the judgment, giving primacy to the judiciary over the executive in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
Under the collegium system, the executive has no say in appointments as the recommendations of the collegium of judges are final and binding on the government.
The opinion of Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati and the views of some former Chief Justices of India and of the High Courts had been obtained, Mr. Khurshid said. The Bill was likely to be placed before the Cabinet shortly.
As for the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Mr. Khurshid said former Chief Justices of India and of High Courts expressed certain apprehensions over certain provisions. The government would amend these provisions without diluting the thrust of the Bill, which lays down judicial standards to ensure accountability on the part of judges.
With the criticism growing of the lack of transparency in the appointments and transfer of judges, the Centre was also in the process of implementing the demand for establishing a National Judicial Commission for judicial appointments, he said.
Mr. Khurshid said it was proposed to introduce an All-India Judicial Service for the subordinate judiciary, on the lines of civil services. Though amendments were made, the Rajya Sabha had to pass a resolution before the proposal could come into effect.
On the lawyers’ demand that legal education be taken out of the purview of the Higher Education Bill, he said he held talks with Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, who made it clear that legal education, in so far as legal practice was concerned, would remain under the Bar Council of India. But certain integrated law courses like law and management, which would not entitle a candidate to practice, would remain with the universities concerned.
Mr. Khurshid said High Courts would be formed in Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura before year-end. The government was awaiting a proposal from the judiciary for appointment of the Chief Justices to these courts; once the appointments were made, the courts would be inaugurated.
Mr. Khurshid said: “We are committed to a strong Lokpal Bill. We are waiting for the report of the Select Committee, and we will move forward after we receive the proposals.”