The Union Cabinet approved constitutional status to a proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC), for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary. In other words, the cabinet approved a constitution amendment bill to make the appointment /transfer of judges more transparent. The status ensures that the composition of the commission cannot be altered through an ordinary legislation and it would require an amendment in the Constitution to do so.
Presently, the composition of the proposed panel is defined in the JAC Bill, 2013 which was introduced along with a separate constitutional amendment bill in Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session. There were demands that the composition as well as the functions of the proposed JAC must be mentioned in the Constitution as a precaution against future changes.
The JAC Bill defines the establishment of the proposed body to recommend appointment and transfer of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts. Excerpts of the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill, 2013 –
- The new Article 124 A of the Constitution will define the composition of the JAC and Article 124 B will define its functions.
- The JAC will be headed by the CJI and have five other members, including the Law Minister and two eminent persons.
- To appoint the two eminent persons for the appointments commission would be done by the collegium that will include the Prime Minister of India, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
- Functions viz. recommending names for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices of High Courts and judges of High Courts; recommending transfer of Chief Justices of High Courts and judges of High Courts, etc.
Note: A parliamentary standing committee which examined the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) Bill, 2013 also made a similar recommendation.