Proposal to scrap collegium system for appointment of judges

NEW DELHI, Aug 14:  There is a proposal to scrap the collegium system of appointment of judges and replace it with a Judicial Appointments Commission, but the government so far has not taken a decision on the issue, the Lok Sabha was informed today.

“There is a proposal to establish a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). However, no decision has been taken by the government so far,” Law Minister Kapil Sibal informed the House in a written reply.

A proposal to set up JAC to replace the present collegium system could not be taken up by the Union Cabinet earlier this month as Sibal could not attend the meeting due to ill health.

The government has the in principle support of political parties to bring such a bill which will require amendment to the Constitution.

JAC will give the Executive a say in appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges.

According to the proposal, JAC will be headed by the Chief Justice of India. It will have two Supreme Court judges, the Law Minister and two eminent personalities as its members. Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry will be the Member Secretary.

The body will recomend appointment and posting of apex court and HC judges.

The two eminent persons on JAC will be selected by a panel comprising the CJI, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition of either House.

As of now, the judges of the apex court are appointed by a collegium comprising the CJI and four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court.

The appointment of judges of the 24 high courts is initiated by the Chief Justice of the concerned HC in consultation with two senior-most judges of that court. The Chief Minister and Governor of the state concerned are also consulted.

The recommendations are referred to the CJI, who in turn consults two senior judges in the SC who have experience in that HC. The recomendations of the collegium are then sent to the government for approval.

The government can return the file only once, but cannot reject the recommendation. (PTI)