Rajya Sabha Today passed the 121st Constitution amendment Bill and Judicial Appointment Commission Bill 2014 for setting up of a National Judicial commission for appointment and transfer of Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court. The Commission will replace the existing Collegium system in which the Supreme Court panel consists of Five Senior most Judges including the Chief Justice recommend the names for appointment. Loksabha passed both the bills yesterday. The Amendment Bill was passed with 179 votes in favour among 180 votes polled as Senior Lawyer Ram Jethmalani abstained from voting . Judicial Appointment Commission Bill 2014 was passed by voice vote.
According to the Bill, The National Judicial Appointments Commission consisting of the following, namely:––
(a) the Chief Justice of India, Chairperson, ex officio;
(b) two other senior Judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India ––Members, ex officio;
(c) the Union Minister in charge of Law and Justice––Member, ex officio;
(d) two eminent persons to be nominated by the committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in the House of the People
It will take at least Eight months to place the Bill for President’s assent as the Constitution Amendment shall be ratified by half of the State Assemblies.
In an interview to Headlines Today leading Constitutional expert Fali S Nariman said Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in its present form hit at the root of judicial independence and may be struck down by the Supreme Court. He also made it clear that many lawyers including him will challenge the legislations in the Supreme Court.
"...The independence of the judiciary is now the cornerstone of the Constitution. And anything that is done which damages it is anathema and the people who decide are the judges of the Supreme Court,"
"Eminent persons are chosen in political sphere... I am sorry that this (bills) should have been pushed through in this fashion," he said.
Earlier he opined that “I believe that before embarking on the new experiment of a broad-based National Judicial Commission, even one loaded with a majority of sitting judges as members, it is imperative that there should be meaningful dialogue between the executive and the collectivity of all the judges of the Supreme Court (represented by its chief justice), so that a mutually acceptable solution can be found. It must be found. Statesmanship is the need of the hour, because we cannot risk another judicial decision. The executive, the judges and the lawyers must resolve to avoid, at all cost, a fourth judges case.”