New Delhi: The Bar Association of India (BAI) on Wednesday expressed concern over the government`s decision to consider a draft bill for setting up the proposed six- member Judicial Appointments Commission headed by the Chief Justice of India.
"We, the undersigned members of the Bar, are concerned and alarmed that a draft bill regarding the Judicial Appointments Commission is being considered by the government without a draft being available for discussion/debate by the members of the Bar or the public," the BAI said in its letter to Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
The draft bill proposal, meant to replace the present system of Collegium appointing judges, will require a Constitutional amendment. The Collegium is a five-member body headed by the Chief Justice of India and includes four other senior most judges.
The proposal has been pending for several years because of strong resistance from the judiciary.
The proposed body will recommend appointment of judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices and judges of the High Courts. It will also recommend transfer of Chief Justice and judges of the High Courts.
BAI president Anil B Diwan also requested that a copy of the proposed bill be provided to him so that a healthy debate and discussion could be undertaken.
"We, therefore, request you to make available to the public a draft of the proposed bill to enable a healthy debate and discussion. We also request that such an important measure should not be rushed through without a robust debate and discussion which necessarily involves a reasonable time," he said.
The BCI letter also sought Kumar`s intervention to ensure that copies of the proposed bill were provided to the bar associates and, particularly, to the BCI and the Supreme Court Bar Association.
It also said that the proposed bill should be published on the "website to elicit views and suggestions of the public".
CJI Altamas Kabir had last week strongly defended the present practice, saying appointments to the higher judiciary are made after "intense deliberations".