With the main opposition BJP Monday assuring the government of its support to pass two important legislations provided its concerns are addressed through amendments the Rajya Sabha is all set to pass the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill,2013,and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill,2012,in the next two days.
While the first provides for the establishment of a Judicial Appointments Commission,the second legislation seeks to ensure fair and just compensation to land owners whose land is acquired. Once passed,the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill,2013,and its enabling legislation the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill will put in place a new system to replace the collegium system of appointments to the higher judiciary.
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Sources told The Indian Express that in a bid to get the two bills passed,the UPA governments floor managers and senior ministers held many rounds of discussions with the opposition leaders over the last three days.
The deadlock was broken Monday after the government agreed to the BJPs demands for some important amendments to the land bill. The bill,which was passed in the Lok Sabha last week,will be taken up for discussion and voting in the upper house Wednesday. Once it is passed,the government will take the bill back to Lok Sabha the next day to get the amendments approved there.
As for the Constitution Amendment Bill,the BJP is learnt to have agreed to the governments suggestion that while this bill could be passed in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday,the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill,2013,which contains the framework and modalities for establishment of the Judicial Appointments Commission,will be referred to the parliamentary standing committee for scrutiny in a time-bound manner.
The government intends to move the bill in Lok Sabha for consideration and voting thereafter.
We will request the Rajya Sabha chairman to ask the standing committee to give its report within six weeks. In the meantime,the bill will be sent to the states so that more than half of the state legislatures can pass the same, said a source.
The agreement is being viewed as a major concession from the BJP,which was initially of the firm view that the constitution amendment part must also be referred to the standing committee. The party is learnt to have relented after Law Minister Kapil Sibal held detailed discussions with leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley and his deputy,Ravi Shankar Prasad.
As for the land bill,sources in the government said among the amendments that the government has agreed to move is the one related to a clause in the bill which says in case of land acquired for irrigation projects,affected families will be given both compensation and land in lieu of land acquired.
Another amendment that the government has agreed to,also relating to irrigation projects,is the one that says such projects should be exempted from the retrospective clause in the bill.
Both these amendments were pushed by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,who is learnt to have spoken to Rural Development minister Jairam Ramesh and also sent an official delegation from the state to meet Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath.
New appointment system
*Appointments to higher judiciary to be made by President after consultation with SC/HC judges and on recommendation of Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).
*JAC to comprise CJI and two senior-most SC judges,union law minister, two eminent persons to be nominated by collegium of PM,CJI and leader of opposition in Lok Sabha; Justice Dept secretary is convener.
*JAC to recommend names for SC and HC judgeship,recommend transfer of HC Judges.
Land bill amendments
Pending/incomplete irrigation projects not to be burdened by new law provisions; cost of rehabilitation for irrigation projects will not be high; process will be less cumbersome.