A Constitution Amendment Bill to facilitate establishment of a Commission to appoint judges to higher judiciary was moved tonight for consideration in the Rajya Sabha, hours after its passage in the Lok Sabha.
The 99th Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to lay down the architecture for setting up of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) through another bill, aimed at overturning the two-decade-old collegium system of appointing judges in the Supreme Court and High Courts.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad moved the bill after an hour-long debate on whether the House has powers to enact such a law.
Deputy Chairman P J Kurien even sought the opinion of former Attorney General K Parasaran, who is a Nominated member of the House on the issue, after members expressed divergent views with some saying it ran the risk of being struck down by the court as "ultra vires".
Asserting that the House had the right to make laws and there was nothing to be scared of, Prasad said the government had no intent to "transgress" into the independence of the judiciary.
"The commitment of our government to the independence of the judiciary is total and complete. Our government fully respects the independence of the judiciary. There is not even the slightest doubt," he said.
"There is no intention to transgress into the independence of the judiciary...The collegium system must cease to exist," he said.
At the same time, he underlined that "The right of appointment is an executive act, the right of transfer is an executive act."