The NDA government’s move to scrap the two-decade-old collegium system under which judges appoint judges got a boost on Monday with former judges and senior advocates unanimously supporting it.
At a consultation meeting organised by the government, they were, however, divided over the composition of the proposed judicial appointments commission (JAC) to replace the collegium, sources privy to the deliberations told HT.
Noted jurists Fali Nariman and Soli Sorabjee and former chief justices of India were in favour of a judge-dominated JAC while Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and some senior advocates felt such body would be no different from the collegium.
But irrespective of their differences over the composition of the JAC, they agreed that there should be transparency in judicial appointments and parameters for selection of judges must be clearly prescribed.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley emphasised the need to have checks in the judicial appointments process. The objections raised by eminent people on the JAC must be taken seriously, sources quoted him as having said.
Stating that the government was committed to judicial independence, law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad clarified that it did not want to go back to pre-1993 system where the executive had greater say in judicial appointments, sources said.
Prominent among those who attended the meet included former chief justices AM Ahmadi and VN Khare, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, former AG and Rajya Sabha MP K Parasaran and senior advocates KTS Tulsi and KK Venugopal.
There has been a near political consensus on replacing the collegium system for quite some time and a constitution amendment bill introduced by the UPA government was passed by the Rajya Sabha in September 2013. But the bill lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.