Bill on judges’ appointment gets House nod

August 15, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

New Delhi: Parliamentary approval was accorded to two bills seeking to end the collegium system for appointment of judges with the Rajya Sabha yesterday adopting the measure as passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The Constitution (99th Amendment) Bill, which seeks to put the proposed judicial appointment commission and its entire composition in the constitution, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, which lays down the procedure to be followed by the proposed body for appointment of Supreme Court judges and transfer and appointment of chief justices and other judges of the high courts, will now go for the president’s assent.

The bills were passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, and the Rajya Sabha passed them yesterday. In the upper house, where the government has just 59 of the 243 members, the constitutional amendment bill got the support of 179 out of 180 members present.

A bill for amending the constitution needs the support of at least two-thirds of the members present in the house, and at least half of the members should be present at the time of voting.

Ram Jethmalani, an Independent member from Rajasthan, was the only member who abstained from voting.

The Rajya Sabha then passed the judicial appointment commission bill with a voice vote. The two bills seek to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges and set up a commission for this.

The bills propose that the Chief Justice of India will head a six-member National Judicial Appointments Commission, other members of which would be the law minister, two senior Supreme Court judges and two eminent people. A collegium comprising the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the leader of the single largest party in the Lok Sabha will select the two eminent people. One eminent person will be nominated from among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, minorities or women.

The bill states that the commission will seek the views of the governor and chief minister of the state concerned in writing before appointing or transferring a judge of that high court.

Meanwhile, Parliament was yesterday adjourned sine die after the more than month-long budget session. The session, which began July 7, saw major legislative business being carried out including passing of the general budget and the judicial appointments bill.

Both the houses worked beyond their scheduled time.

In the Lok Sabha, of the 166 hours and 56 minutes scheduled time, 14 hours and 23 minutes were lost due to interruptions.

However, the lower house gained 27 hours and 10 minutes as members sat late to compensate for the time loss, working nearly 13 hours more than the scheduled time as per information given by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu.

Parliament had 27 sittings in this session. In the Rajya Sabha, total sittings of 140 hours were scheduled, of which 21 hours and 22 minutes were lost to protests.

The upper house, however, worked for nearly 38 hours extra, gaining on the lost time and exceeding the planned hours of working. Twenty bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha, and parliament overall passed 12 bills, including the finance bills.

“Broad statistics suggest that productivity of the Lok Sabha has significantly improved in respect of working hours and the time lost in comparison to that of 2004 and 2009,” Naidu told reporters.

The parliamentary affairs minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was very happy with the conduct of parliament.