Process to form judicial appointments body begins
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Setting the stage for revamping the process of judicial appointments, a Committee of Secretaries last week suggested the creation of a Judicial Appointments Commission which will have the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition (LoP) and law minister as its members apart from the Chief Justice of India and other representatives from the judiciary.
Armed with this proposal, the government will now start consultations with former CJIs, jurists and legal luminaries to broaden the support for this new initiative. Any change to the existing collegium system will eventually require a constitutional amendment for it come to force. With the BJP and other political parties also inclined to change the current system of appointing judges, the government is quite confident of piloting this move.
"This is a very high priority for us. Now that the CoS has given its recommendation, we will start talks with the judiciary. What we now have is the contours of a Judicial Appointments Commission, which will have to be taken to the cabinet and then parliament," said an official closely involved with the process. At this stage, it has not been decided whether it would be the LoP in the Rajya Sabha or the Lok Sabha.
As an official put it: "This will be a small body with not more than seven-eight members. At least this way the government can have some say in the appointment of judges. The present system gives no say to the legislature or the executive in the appointment of judges to the high courts and Supreme Court. It came into force after the 1993 judgment of the constitution bench of the the Supreme Court which ruled that the collegium system, in which judges appoint themselves, could be the only system to insulate judiciary from executive interference. All that the government does is endorse the recommendations as a matter of administrative necessity."
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