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National Judicial Commission Bill introduced in Rajya Sabha

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Structure, Organization and Functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary

 

Source: IE

 Direction: The article highlights the recently introduced National Judicial Commission Bill, 2022, its criticism and its way ahead. The earlier article will help to understand the issue of NJAC and why it was declared unconstitutional.

 Context: A private member bill – the National Judicial Commission Bill, 2022, to regulate the appointment of judges through the National Judicial Commission was introduced in RS.

Background:

  • This comes amid an ongoing confrontation between the Union government and the SC over the government’s resentment towards the Collegium system as “opaque”.
  • Both have pointed fingers at each other for delaying judicial appointments.
  • The government has also started voicing its grievance against the invalidation of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) by the court in 2015.

  

Key features of the Bill:

  • The bill provides for the establishment of the National Judicial Commission, to regulate –
    • the procedure for appointment of the CJI and other judges of the SC and Chief Justices and other judges of HCs.
    • transfer of HC judges
    • to lay down judicial standards
    • provide for accountability of judges.
  • To establish a credible and expedient mechanism for investigating individual complaints for misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of the higher judiciary.
  • It also proposes the presentation of an address by Parliament to the President in relation to the proceeding for the removal of a judge.

 

Criticism of the move:

  • The concept of NJAC has come under the consideration of the SC 3 times – 1993, 1998 and 2015.
  • All 3 times, while giving importance to the independence of the judiciary, the SC dismissed the framework of the NJAC.
  • In its 2015 ruling, the SC declared the 99th Constitutional Amendment and NJAC unconstitutional, violating the basic structure of the constitution. However, the SC admitted that all is not well even with the collegium system.

 

Way ahead:

  • Both the judiciary and the government need to do some “out-of-the-box” thinking to deal with the “perennial” judicial vacancies in HCs.
  • Both institutions need to adhere to the timeline given in the 2nd Judges case and the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP).
  • Until consensus is built on a mechanism, the need is to improve the collegium system through conversation with the judiciary.

 

Private Member’s Bills:
  • An MP who is not a minister is a private member and the Bills introduced by such private members are referred to as Private Member’s Bills.
    • It requires notice of one month and can be introduced or discussed only on Fridays. Till now 14 such bills have been passed
  • The Bills introduced by ministers are called government Bills, which have the backing of the government and reflect its legislative agenda.
  • Whether Private Bill has to be admitted or not is decided by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.

 

Insta Links:

The impasse over the appointment of judges

 

Mains Links:

Q. Critically examine the Supreme Court’s judgement on ‘The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014’ with reference to the appointment of judges of higher judiciary in India. (UPSC 2017)

 

Prelims Links:

Q1. Consider the following statements regarding the appointment of Supreme Court judges:

  1. The Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President of India.
  2. Whenever there is any doubt about the senior most Judge holding the office of the Chief Justice of India, the matter is decided by the Parliament.
  3. For appointing Judges of the Supreme Court, the recommendation of the collegium to the President is binding during the first instance.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a. 1 only

b. 1 and 3 only

c. 2 only

d. 1 and 2 only