Highlights of the Bills
- The Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013 amends provisions related to appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary.
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- It establishes a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to make recommendations to the President on appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary. It empowers Parliament to pass a law providing for the composition, functions and procedures of the JAC.
- The JAC Bill, 2013 states that the JAC shall comprise: (i) the Chief Justice of India (CJI), (ii) two other senior most judges of the Supreme Court (SC), (iii) the Union Minister for Law and Justice, and (iv) two eminent persons to be nominated by the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of Opposition of the Lok Sabha.
- The functions of the JAC include making recommendations for appointments of the CJI, SC judges, Chief Justice and other High Court (HC) judges, and transfer of HC judges.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The current method of appointments has been examined by various bodies including the Law Commission and the Parliamentary Standing Committee. They vary in the role of the executive and judiciary in making appointments of judges.
- The composition of the JAC has not been included in the Constitution, but has been left for Parliament to decide by law. This implies that modifying the composition of the JAC would not require a constitutional amendment, but may be altered by a simple majority in Parliament.
- The Standing Committee examining the JAC Bill has recommended that (i) the JAC be composed of three eminent persons, (ii) the broad parameters for short listing of candidates for HC appointments be laid down in the Bill, and (iii) the centre also consider the setting up of state level appointments commissions comprising the Chief Minister, the Chief Justice of HC and the Leader of Opposition.
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