Proposed Judicial Appointments Commission provides for broad-based process

The Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) provides for a broad-based appointment process for judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court and gives equal say for the executive.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 introduced in the Rajya Sabha last week provides for constitution of the JAC comprising the Chief Justice of India, an ex-officio chairperson; two Supreme Court judges next to the CJI in seniority as ex officio members; the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons, to be nominated by the collegium consisting of the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, as members. The Secretary in the Department of Justice in the Law Ministry will be the convener.

The government also introduced a Constitution Amendment Bill for amending the relevant provisions relating to the appointment of High Court and Supreme Court judges.

Once the Bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament, it will have to be ratified by at least 50 per cent of the Assemblies. Only thereafter the JAC Bill will become an Act.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons, after review of the Supreme Court pronouncements on the collegium system of appointments and relevant Constitutional provisions, Articles 124 (2) and 217 (1), it was felt that a broad-based JAC could be established for making recommendations for selection of judges.

It would provide a meaningful role to the executive and judiciary to present their view points and make the participants accountable while introducing transparency in the selection process.

“The proposed Bill would enable equal participation of the judiciary and the executive, make the system of appointments more accountable, and thereby increase the confidence of the public in the institution.”

According to the Bill, the Commission will be duty-bound to recommend persons for appointment as CJI, judges of the Supreme Court; Chief Justices of the High Courts and other judges of the High Courts; to recommend transfer of Chief Justices of the High Courts and judges of the High Courts from the High Court to any other High Court and to ensure the person recommended is of ability, integrity and standing in the legal profession.

In the case of appointment of the High Court judge, the views of the Governor and the Chief Minister as also of the Chief Justice of the High Court will be elicited in writing. Within three months of the Act coming into force, the Central government will intimate to the Commission the number of vacancies in the Supreme Court and the High Courts for making its recommendations.

The Central government will also ensure that two months prior to the retirement of a judge in the High Court or the Supreme Court, the Commission is intimated.

The Commission will meet at such time and place as the chairperson may decide and have the power to specify by regulations the procedure for discharge of its functions under the Act.

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