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Constitutional status may be proposed to JAC
Dec 28, 2013

The government has passed the proposal to grant constitutional status to a proposed Commission for appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary to ensure that its composition cannot be altered through an ordinary legislation.

This will act as a safeguard against future changes. 

According to the proposal, while new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of JAC, Article 124 B will define its functions.

At present, the composition of the proposed panel is defined in the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 which was introduced along with a separate constitutional amendment bill in Rajya Sabha during the Monsoon Session.

The constitutional amendment bill says there will be a JAC but does not say it will be headed by the CJI or mentions the composition.

The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill defines the establishment of the proposed body to recommend appointment and transfer of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts.

The bill seeks to scrap the present collegium system under which judges appoint judges.

Apart from CJI, two Supreme Court judges, the Law Minister and two eminent citizens - to be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, CJI and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha - will be its members.

Secretary (Justice) in the Law Ministry will be the convener of JAC. 

Another recommendation of the standing committee which the government accepted relates to informing the JAC six months in advance of any vacancy arising in the higher judiciary -- Supreme Court and the High Courts-- so that steps can be initiated to fill the posts.  In case a judge dies in office or steps down, the JAC will be informed about the development within one month so that necessary action can be initiated. 

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