The law ministry is flummoxed at a strange request by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to amend the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill — proposing replacement of the collegium system for appointment in higher judiciary with the commission.
The West Bengal chief minister wants the bill, passed during the budget session to be ratified by state assemblies, to be amended to explicitly mention that the governor will act on the aid and advice of the council of ministers.
This was in reference to the provision in the bill regarding the consultation with the state governments while making appointments in the high courts.
The provision mentions that the commission should elicit in writing the views of the governor and the chief minister of the state concerned before recommendation regarding appointment of a judge of a high court.
As both governor and chief minister were mentioned, Banerjee expressed her concern that the governor may not act on aid and advice of the council of ministers and wanted the clarification to be mentioned in the law, government sources said.
Banerjee’s request comes in response to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s letter to all chief ministers seeking their support in getting the Constitutional Amendment Bill ratified by the state government. At least half of the states have to ratify the bill for the commission to take birth.
The law ministry will not accept her suggestion.
The governor has to act on aid and advice of the council of ministers and cannot take independent stand unless specifically provided in law.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad is expected to write to Banerjee explaining the Governor’s role as defined in the Constitutional to argue that the amendment sought by her was not required.