Bowing to expert opinion and accepting the parliamentary standing committees report in this regard,the Union cabinet on Thursday cleared the Law Ministrys proposal to grant constitutional status to the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission for appointing and transferring judges of the higher judiciary.
The decision will ensure that the composition of the proposed body cannot be altered through an ordinary legislation and it would require an amendment in the Constitution to do so.
A number of jurists and many opposition parties had been demanding constitutional status to the proposed JAC.
There were demands that the composition as well as the functions of the proposed judicial appointments commission should be mentioned in the Constitution as a safeguard against future changes.
As per the JAC Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha on August 24 by Law Minister Kapil Sibal,the JAC was proposed to be headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and comprise two other senior most judges of the Supreme Court,the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons to be nominated by a collegium headed by the Prime Minister.
However,many jurists and opposition parties had expressed the concern that since the composition and functions of the JAC were not part of a Constitution amendment Bill,it would be open to any future Parliament to change the same through simple majority. It was also feared that the primacy of the CJI in the JAC could get eroded if a future government so wanted.
On Thursday,the Cabinet cleared an amendment to the Constitution,with new Article 124 A defining the composition of JAC and Article 124 B defining its functions.
While the JAC will continue to be headed by the CJI and have five other members,including the Law Minister and two eminent persons,its functions would include recommending names for appointment as judges of the Supreme Court,Chief Justices of High Courts and judges of High Courts and recommending transfer of Chief Justices of High Courts and judges of High Courts.