A seven-member judge-dominated judicial appointments commission (JAC) with two eminent jurists having powers to veto the majority’s decision is in the offing.
The draft of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill prepared by the law ministry for introduction in the current session of Parliament provides for four Supreme Court judges with Chief Justice of India as chairperson of the commission.
The other members of the commission would be the Union law minister and two jurists nominated by the President, government sources said. The provision for veto power to jurists has been made to ensure checks and balances in the judge-dominated body. Two eminent jurists together will have power to veto the decision of other members. “It will be a collective power and not that of an individual,” a source privy to the drafting process said.
The JAC, which is to replace the two-decade-old collegium system under which judges
appoint judges, will have powers to appoint and transfer SC and HC judges. However, there was no clarity on Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill that provides a mechanism to deal with complaints against erring judges.
The commission will be set up through a constitution amendment. Earlier, a constitution amendment bill aimed at replacing the collegium system was passed by the Rajya Sabha in September 2013. But the bill lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha.
On Monday, the NDA government’s attempt to change scrap the collegium system got a boost with prominent jurists supporting the move. At a consultation meeting organised by the government, they were, however, divided over the composition of the JAC.