The new Judicial Appointments Bill may run into rough weather in the Rajya Sabha with Congress strongly opposed to its "veto provision". "There are issues with the veto provision... I have said everything now by saying this... There are two-three very crucial changes which will affect the independence of judiciary," party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.
"Some of them impinge on judicial independence... We will suggest those changes," he said at the AICC briefing.
The bill brought by the NDA government provides that if two members of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) do not agree, then the appointment will not go ahead.
It also provides that the President can send back the recommendation of the panel back for reconsideration. But if the panel reiterates the recommendation "unanimously", the President will have to go ahead with the appointment.
A senior Congress functionary, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that there is another catch in the bill. "Since the Law Minister is also a member of the NJAC to appoint judges, he may object to anybody's election at the primary stage even when five other members are in favour of that person. "And if he continues with his objection after the President sends back the file for reconsideration, then the particular judge cannot be appointed as it will then require a 'unanimous' recommendation by the NJAC," the leader said.
At the AICC briefing, Singhvi said that the principal objection of Congress is to certain clauses but "we are not against the basics of the bill, the objective to be achieved". He, however, parried a specific question as to whether the party will support or oppose the bill in Parliament. "You have not seen what we have done. Wait for the day when the government brings it on the penultimate day, you will see what we do," he said. Asserting that the bill was "UPA's pioneering initiative, draft and idea", Singhvi said that Congress understands that imitation is best form of flattery, which the government is doing by copying the UPA's initiatives.
He said that the UPA's bill was to restore the balance among the three institutions. "We will have constructive, positive and critical approach without changing the object of ushering a new regime of (judicial appointments)," he said. Attacking the BJP, he reminded that the party had opposed the same clauses, which it is now bringing in the bill.