To bring in more transparency in appointment of judges in higher judiciary, the law minister on Friday said the government is working on a proposal to put in place a new system to change the present mechanism where a collegium of judges has a larger say in such decisions.
Ashwani Kumar said there was a large political consensus to put in place the alternative mechanism.
As per the current system, the executive has no say in appointments of judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts as the recommendations of the collegium are final and binding on the government.
“There seems to be a large political consensus on the need for having an alternative mechanism...Principle of it is, may be an alternative system for appointment which ensures greater transparency and better inputs to ensure that the best are selected to judiciary. It is still under consideration,” Kumar told reporters.
In reply to a poser, he refused to say whether the new body would have the prime minister or the leader of the opposition as its members. One of the initial drafts is understood to have suggested that the PM and the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha be part of the Commission.
He said though the proposal was still going several changes, the proposed National Judicial Commission could be headed by the chief justice.
“There has been a view that we could consider that the collegium system has had its utility...Whatever is required will be done and if we can do it we shall do it. Otherwise, we’ll see what is the best way possible,” the minister said, noting that the move might entail a Constitutional amendment which needs the backing of two-thirds members of a particular house of parliament.
“I would like to very categorically dispel that nothing in the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill should be treated as a gag order. We hope to bring in a provision which will only reiterate that the Supreme Court has already stated in a number of its judgments which states that courts must refrain from making observations against anyone where such observations are not strictly necessary for the decision of the case before the court,” he said.