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President clears Judicial Appointments Bill

The nod is considered a major achievement for the Modi government, as the Bill was passed unanimously during the Monsoon session of Parliament in both  houses.  Legislators cutting across party lines backed the move as the Commission provides a toehold to  politicians in the appointment of judges. The Bill has also been ratified by 16 of the 29 state legislatures.

Chief Justice of India (CJI) will head the NJAC. Besides the CJI, the judiciary would be represented on the panel by two senior judges of the Supreme Court. Two eminent personalities and the law minister will be the other members of the proposed body.

The Bill says that if two members of the NJAC do not agree, then the appointment will not go ahead. It also provides that the President can send back the recommendation of the panel back for reconsideration. But if the panel reiterates the recommendation ‘unanimously’, the President will have to go ahead with the appointment.

Also, NJAC will take consent from the Governors and Chief Ministers of the concerned state in writing before appointing or transferring a judge of that High Court. With President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent, the appointment of the commission is likely to be taken up by the government on a priority basis as 266 vacancies of judges in 24 high courts exist as of now. The Supreme Court, which has a sanctioned strength of 31, also has one vacancy. The appointment of new judges is also expected to expedite the process of clearing the backlog of legal cases in courts across the country.
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