After having deferred it earlier this month, the cabinet on Thursday is expected to consider an ambitious and controversial proposal to replace the existing judges appointment system with a seven-member panel, in which majority will be non-judges.
Armed with support from different political parties, the UPA government has decided to go ahead with its proposal to scrap the two-decade old system of the country’s top five judges (Supreme Court collegium) recommending names for appointment of judges for the Supreme Court and High Courts,
The law ministry proposal for the cabinet aims to replace the collegium system with a bill to amend the Constitution for setting-up the Judicial Appointments Commission to be headed by the Chief Justice of India.
It will have two Supreme Court judges, law minister, two eminent personalities to be selected by a panel of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and the leader of the opposition in either house of parliament, as its members and secretary of the justice department will be the member secretary.
The proposal, which had been stuck so far due to lack of political unanimity, got an impetus in the all-party meeting last week with majority of them supporting it, though some of them favoured referring the bill to a parliamentary committee after its introduction.
The incumbent Chief Justice of India, Justice P Sathasivam and his predecessors, Justices Altamas Kabir, SH Kapadia and KG Balakrishnan — all of them have rejected the criticism of the collegium system and maintained it was incorrect to state that governments have no role in appointing judges.