Govt examining proposal to change judges` appointment system

A proposal to change the existing system of appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Court is "under active consideration", Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad said in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

PTI| Last Updated: Aug 08, 2014, 18:28 PM IST

New Delhi: A proposal to change the existing system of appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Court is "under active consideration", Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad said in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

He said this in reply to a question by K N Balagopal (CPI-M), who wanted to know whether government has any proposal for changing the present system of appointment of judges.

"There is a proposal to change the existing system for appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts and transfer of judges of the High Courts. The matter is under active consideration of the government," he said.

The government`s response came two days after the Union cabinet discussed the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014.

Treading cautiously, the government has decided to hold wider consultations on bringing Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) that will scrap the collegium system of appointment of judges.

Government sources had yesterday said that the Cabinet gave its "in-principle" approval to the "broad contours" of the measure.

But the bill was not cleared as it was felt that the result of the wider consultations should be awaited, the sources said, indicating that the proposed legislation could get delayed.

The government is making efforts to bring the bill in the current session of Parliament but would not like to take any hasty step in view of the sensitivity in the judiciary on the issue, the sources have maintained.

According to the proposal, National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 to amend the Constitution to make way for the proposed body to be headed by the Chief Justice of India will be moved in Parliament.

Besides the Chief Justice, the judiciary would be represented by two senior judges of the Supreme Court. Two eminent personalities and the Law Minister will be the other members of the proposed six-member body.

To a question as to whether there was a practice of the government writing to the judiciary on appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Law Minister said, it "periodically reminds the chief justices of the High Courts to initiate proposals in time for filling up the existing as well as the anticipated vacancies in the High Courts."

At the outset he said that pursuant to the Supreme Court judgement on October 6, 1993 read with the Advisory Opinion of October 28, 1998, the entire process of initiation of proposal for appointment of a judge of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justices of the High Courts rests with the Chief Justice of India and for the appointment of the judges of the High Court rests with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court.