What is Judicial Bill and how Modi Govt Passes its first test in Parliament: Explained

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Judiciary
Bangalore, Aug 14: Finally Naredra Modi government passed its very first test at Rajya Sabha where the government does not enjoy a majority. After Lok Sabha, now Rajya Sabha too passed the Judicial Bill scrapping the Collegium system.

Know all about Judicial Bill and its importance:

  • India earlier used to follow collegium system while appointing Supreme Court judges. According to collegium system, senior apex court judges used to select other judges.
  • Now, as the Judicial Bill has been passed, a six-member committee would appoint the judges of the Supreme Court. High Courts too will follow the same procedure.
  • The six-member committee comprises -- the Chief Justice of India, the next two most senior judges of the Supreme Court, the Law Minister, and two eminent persons.
  • The two eminent persons would be selected by a committee that is headed by the Prime Minister and the leader of the largest opposition party (currently, the Congress).
  • The Judicial Bill ensures the prominent roles of Prime Minister and Law Minister, i.e. central government, in the appointment of judges in the apex court.
  • If two people in the panel do not agree, appointment will not happen. President can return recommendation for reconsideration for once.
  • The two eminent persons will be appointed for 3 years and they will not be re-nominated.

Why did Congress oppose the Judicial Bill initially?

  • The biggest opposition party in the Lok Sabha -- Congress had opposed the bill asking Modi govt to drop one feature from the bill to create National Judicial Appointments Commission (NLAC).
  • That controversial feature said that if the President of India rejects a candidate sent for consideration by the six-member committee, then all committee members have to take decision unanimously if they want to recommend the same judge.
  • Opposing the feature, Congress said that as a member of the committee, the Law Minister could veto the candidate. This would force the committee to drop the judge because of the emphasis on unanimity.
  • To ensure the Congress' support for the proposal, the government dropped the "unanimous" provision.

Why does Modi govt want Congress's support in Rajya Sabha?

The government has a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha, but in the Rajya Sabha, it has just 60 of the House's 250 members, so it needs the Congress' support.

Advantages of Judicial Bill:

  • Judges will no more have power to choose other judges. Parliament, armed with expertise of legal luminaries, would have a strong say in the procedure of appointing apex court judges.
  • Govt to lay down a set procedure for appointment of judges to higher judiciary.
  • Govt to have more power while appointing a judge and raise objection at elementary stage of selection and cancel a candidature.

Disadvantage of Judicial Bill:

  • More political intervention in the process of appointing a Supreme Court judge.
  • Threat to judicial independence as political parties may strike a deal over a candidature.
  • Intelligence report can be cited by political parties to scuttle chances of a candidate who may not find favour with such parties.

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