Six-member National Judicial Commission to select judges for higher courts

The panel will comprise the Chief Justice of India (Chairperson); two other senior-most Supreme Court judges; Union Law Minister and two eminent persons to be nominated by the PM, CJI and Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. 

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:36 pm IST

Published - August 13, 2014 08:10 pm IST - New delhi

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 passed in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday provides for setting up of a six-member National Judicial Commission to select and recommend judges to the High Courts and Supreme Court.

The Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the `National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill’ seek to give constitutional status to the NJC, comprising the Chief Justice of India (Chairperson); two other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court; the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons to be nominated by the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of Opposition of the Lok Sabha. One of the eminent persons shall be nominated from amongst the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Minorities or women. 

The object of constituting the Commission is to enable participation of judiciary, executive and eminent persons and will ensure greater transparency, accountability and objectivity in the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

Within 30 days of the NJC being put in place, the Centre will intimate the number of vacancies of Judges in the High Courts and Supreme Court for making recommendations to fill the vacancies. It also mandates the Centre to make a reference to the Commission about vacancies that might arise six months in advance for the NJC to take steps to fill the vacancies.

The NJC will recommend the senior most judge of the Supreme Court for appointment as the Chief Justice of India, provided he is considered fit to hold the office. For appointing Supreme Court judges, the NJC will recommend names of persons on the basis of their ability, merit and other criteria. The NJC is vested with veto power not to recommend a person for appointment if any two members do not agree for such recommendation both for the apex court and High Court.

The Commission will recommend a judge of High Court to be the Chief Justice of a High Court on the basis of inter-se seniority of High Court Judges and ability, merit and other criteria. For appointment of High Court judges, the Commission will seek nominations from the CJ of the High Court concerned in consultation with two senior most judges of that High Court. The NJC will elicit the views of the Governor and Chief Minister of the State before making recommendations.

On the recommendations of the Commission, the President will appoint the High Court and Supreme Court judges. However, if for some reason, the President requests the Commission to reconsider certain recommendations and the recommendation is reiterated the President is bound to make the appointment.

The Bill mandates the Commission to make regulations specifying the criteria of suitability with respect to the appointment of Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court, the procedure and conditions for selection and procedure for transfer of judges from one High Court to another.         

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