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Parliament panel for constitutional status to CJI in new body to appoint judges

PTI | Last Updated: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 23:32

New Delhi: Amid fears that the Chief Justice of India could be removed as the head of a proposed panel to appoint judges to higher judiciary, a Parliamentary panel is learnt to have recommended giving him constitutional status as a safeguard.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Personnel in its report, likely to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow, is learnt to have said that placing CJI as the head of the Judicial Appointments Commission in the Constitution (120th) Amendment Bill - passed by the Rajya Sabha during the Budget session - will give more stability.

At present, the composition of the proposed panel headed by the CJI is defined in the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 which was introduced along with a separate Constitutional amendment bill.

The Constitutional amendment bill says there will be a JAC but does not say it will be headed by the CJI.

While the Constitutional amendment bill - an enabling bill - was passed by the upper house, the main bill - the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 was referred to the standing committee.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill defines the establishment of the proposed body to appoint judges.

Some jurists and BJP had expressed fear that any future government can tamper with the composition of the Commission.

They had said that as amending constitution was not an easy task, the CJI as the head of the panel should find mention in the constitution amendment bill.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill seeks to set up a panel headed by the CJI to recommend the appointment and transfer of Supreme Court and high court judges.

The other members of the proposed Commission would be two senior-most judges of Supreme Court, the Law Minister and two eminent persons, along with the Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry as its convener.

The Parliamentary panel has also recommended to add another eminent person to the panel.

Law Minister Kapil Sibal had recently told that he is open to the idea of putting CJI in the Constitution amendment bill to allay fears.

The bill also seeks to scrap the present collegium system where judges appoint judges.

First Published: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 23:32

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