Panel for judges' appointment to get constitutional status as Cabinet gives nod

SupremeCourtThe constitutional amendment bill says there will be a JAC but does not say it will be headed by the CJI or mentions the composition.

Amid demands by jurists and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), government on Thursday gave the go ahead to grant constitutional status to a proposed Commission for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary to ensure that its composition cannot be altered through an ordinary legislation.

A Parliamentary standing committee which examined the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill, 2013 had also made a similar recommendation.

There were demands that the composition as well as the functions of the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) should be mentioned in the Constitution as a safeguard against future changes.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting held in the national capital on Thursday.

According to the proposal, while new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of JAC, Article 124 B will define its functions.

At present, the composition of the proposed panel is defined in the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 which was introduced along with a separate constitutional amendment bill in Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session.

The constitutional amendment bill says there will be a JAC but does not say it will be headed by the CJI or mentions the composition.

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 recommend appointment and transfer of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts.

"We have made compromises to make the bill palatable to all. We have satisfied all demands.... The bill with official amendments will be tabled in the Lok Sabha now," Law Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters.

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