New Delhi: Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Thursday said that a bill providing a say for the executive in the appointment of judges in the higher judiciary should be referred to a parliamentary panel.
Speaking in the house after the Constitution (120th) Amendment Bill was moved by Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal, Jaitley said the bill was a "monumental piece of legislation" and it should be reviewed by a standing committee of Parliament.
"We are in support of the concept (behind the bill). A standing committee will get to hear the various stakeholders, let everyone give their viewpoints," he said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that the Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013, - aimed at creating a Judicial Appointments Commission for appointing judges to the Supreme Court and 24 high courts - could both be taken up in the next session of Parliament simultaneously.
While cautioning the government against going back to the pre-1993 system of appointing judges when the government picked the higher judiciary, Jaitley said in the existing Supreme Court Collegium mechanism the members of the panel of judges went by their own preferences.
The Supreme Court Collegium consists of five top judges of the apex court, headed by the chief justice of India.
Jaitley said when the collegium meets for appointment of judges, they "have to accommodate the preferences of each other, and those who don`t come in their list of preferences lose out".
Jaitley also spoke against the trend of higher judiciary members seeking post-retirement jobs. He said if there was a proposal for extending the retirement age of judges, it could be considered but the "temptation of continuing to occupy a position in a tribunal post retirement is serious".
"The desire of a post-retirement job influences the pre-retirement judgments and adversely impacts the functioning of the judiciary," the leader of opposition said.
Jaitley proposed that a National Judicial Commission should not only have powers for appointment of judges but also ensure their accountability.
He said in cases of judicial misconduct, falling short of acts that call for impeachment, the judges were accountable only to judges and "this needs to be changed".
"We don`t like the present system, and all have agreed to change it...There should be a national judicial commission, but it should also have powers of accountability," he said.