Friday, September 6, 2013

Lok Satta realizes its dream of a Judicial Commission: Dr.JP

The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the Rajya Sabha passing the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013 providing for creation a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

It may be recalled that the Lok Satta had brought together three eminent judges of unimpeachable integrity and credibility to come up with proposals for judicial appointments and an Indian Judicial Service. The three judges – Chief Justice M. N. Venkatachalaiah, Chief Justice J. S. Verma and Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer – produced a report recommending formation of a National Judicial Commission for appointment of judges in higher courts and an Indian Judicial Service for competitive, nation-wide recruitment of judges at the district judge level.

The Lok Satta Party shared the report with all major political parties and parliamentarians and briefed Government and Opposition leaders on its salient features.

The Bill adopted by the Rajya Sabha on September 5 is a modified version of the proposals made by the three eminent judges, pointed out Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today.

In a media statement, Dr. JP said that the Bill associates the executive, legislature and judiciary in the appointment of higher judges. Combined with the Judicial Standards and Accountability law, the Bill ensures both quality and accountability in the higher judiciary. If the Indian Judicial Service also becomes a reality, it will provide a large pool of highly qualified judges in the subordinate judiciary for appointment to higher courts.

Dr. JP recalled that the Supreme Court usurped the power to appoint judges of higher courts for nearly two decades by introducing the collegiums system.

Dr. JP said: “This usurpation is plainly unconstitutional, and violates the principle of checks and balance in relation to organs of the State. In no other democracy judges are the sole appointing authority of judges. Even in practice, appointment of judges by the Supreme Court collegium has been found to be unsatisfactory and undermining the quality and credibility of the judiciary“.

Dr. JP pointed out that the Indian judiciary plays a seminal rule in safeguarding citizens’ liberty, promoting rule of law and above all in reconciling and harmonizing conflicting points of view in a highly diverse and polarized society like India. Therefore, the courts’ credibility and quality of individual judges are critical.

The proposed Judicial Appointments Commission will comprise the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, two Supreme Court judges, Law Minister and Law Secretary and two eminent jurists. The jurists will be chosen by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, leader of the Opposition and Chief Justice of India.

Dr. JP appealed to all political parties, jurists and members of the bar to support the proposal for constitution of the Indian Judicial Service also.

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