In last-minute changes, the UPA government has proposed the inclusion of two "eminent persons" instead of two "jurists" in a six-member judicial appointments commission that will seek to strike a balance and avoid extra weightage to judiciary in the body.
The decision to make the changes was taken by the Union Law Ministry on August 3 in a separate note to the Cabinet Secretariat.
The amended proposal, likely to be taken up in a meeting of the Cabinet on Thursday, says that the six-member committee should include the Chief Justice of India, two Supreme Court judges, Union Law Minister and two eminent persons instead of two jurists as proposed earlier.
Also, the Leader of Opposition will not be a member as suggested in an earlier proposal.
Instead, the two eminent persons will be nominated to the
proposed judicial appointments commission by a collegium
consisting of the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chief Justice of India.
The secretary in the Law Ministry will be the convenor of the judicial appointments commission. The changes will enable non-jurists to become members of the judicial appointments
commission and not restrict the membership to those with
For long, the political class has been of the view that the
collegium system of appointment of judges should be done away with as judges should not make their own appointments.
The collegium system was developed through two judgments of the Supreme Court, one of which interpreted Article 124 of the Constitution in a manner in which consultation process with the judiciary by the President was deemed concurrence.
Constitution uses consultation but interpreting it as concurrence in the face of clear language to establish primacy of the opinion of the Chief Justice of India is contrary to constitutional scheme. Also, in the constitutional scheme there is no hierarchy among consultees, says the Cabinet note.
According to the note, the judicial appointments commission will recommend appointment of the Chief Justice of India, judges of the Supreme Court as well as chief justices of high courts and other judges.
It will also recommend transfer of the judges and will have to ensure that persons recommended have ability, integrity and standing in the legal profession.
Cabinet approval will be sought for amendments to Articles 124, 217, 222 and 231 of the Constitution, besides inserting Article 124 (A) in the Constitution and introduction of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill in the ongoing Monsoon