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Cong falls in line on judges Bill

Cong falls in line on judges Bill
Highlights

A day after the chief justice of India R M Lodha defended the collegiums system of appointing judges to the higher judiciary, a Bill to drop it got closer to reality with almost all the parties supporting it in the Lok Sabha.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad speaks in Lok SabhaNew Delhi: A day after the chief justice of India R M Lodha defended the collegiums system of appointing judges to the higher judiciary, a Bill to drop it got closer to reality with almost all the parties supporting it in the Lok Sabha.

The bill a constitutional amendment could not be taken up for voting on Tuesday as the house had to be adjourned at 5.30 pm to enable the members to attend a function, but would be approved on Wednesday in all likelihood.

Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad who moved the Bill, and then briefly responded to the debate asserted that the government has no intention of interfering with the ‘rights, jurisdiction, authority and constitutional powers of the Supreme Court and High Courts.”

“The real driving force for the judiciary is its moral authority. It is the moral authority that enhances the respect for the judiciary,” he said and observed that the new law would ensure this for the judges.

The proposed law envisages the setting up of a National Judicial Appointments Commission- a six member body chaired by the chief justice of the supreme court, with two more supreme court judges as members, and the union law minister as well as two eminent members selected by a three member committee consisting of prime minister, chief justice of India and the leader of opposition. The constitution is to be suitably amended to provide the legal and constitutional architecture for the new system that would replace the existing collegium system which consists only of judges.

The political executive has been keen for the last several years to drop the collegiums system, and a bill was moved by the UPA in its previous tenure. However, given the BJP’s opposition to it, the bill could not be lapsed, and was withdrawn from the Rajya Sabha on Monday. In the Lok sabha, the former law minister M Veerappa Moily supported the bill on Tuesday, although at a party briefing senior, lawyer and spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi did express some reservations.

“It is our bill, but then not in toto. We do have serious reservations about a few provisions, and we shall voice these when it comes up for debate in the Rajya Sabha. But this does not mean we are against the bill,” he asserted.

The Modi sarkar is keen that this legislation be enacted during this budget session itself, and in this context parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu has hinted the likelihood of extending it beyond August 14th as well.

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