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Govt seeks greater say in appointment of judges

Govt seeks greater say in appointment of judges
The government reportedly wants to have a greater say in the appointment of judges. A Cabinet note circulated on Wednesday by the Law Ministry proposed to scrap the present collegium system by replacing it with a Judicial Appointments Commission headed by the Chief Justice of India with the law minister as a representative of the government. The proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) will be a six-member body headed by the CJI.

Two judges of the Supreme Court, the Law Minister and two eminent jurists nominated by the President will be the members, the note said. ‘One view has been that the Leader of the Opposition should be made a member of the JAC. This suggestion could be considered,’ the Cabinet note reads. Secretary, Department of Justice will be the Convener of the panel.

The move would entail amendments to Articles 124, 217, 222 and 231 of the Constitution and insertion of Article 124 A. The views of the Governors, CMs and respective CJs  of the 24 HCs will be elicited in writing for appointment of judges as per the procedure which could be determined by the JAC.

The proposed body will recommend appointment of judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices and judges of the High Courts. The panel will also recommend transfer of Chief Justice and judges of the High Courts. ‘Any person who is not recommended for appointment as a judge by the JAC shall not be appointed by the President,’ the note says.

The Department of Justice in the Law Ministry will process the recommendations made by the JAC for seeking approval of the Prime Minister and the President.

Justifying the move to scrap the collegium system, the Law Ministry said, ‘the need for this proposal arises primarily because the present system of appointment of judges in the country is unprecedented as in no other country in the world, does the judiciary makes appointments for itself.’ It said the present system has resulted from the decisions of the Supreme Court ‘which it is believed are inconsistent with the constitutional scheme’.
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