Agencies, New Delhi
The Lok Sabha today junked the collegium system of appointment of judges prevailing since 1993 by passing the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 and an enabling Constitutional Amendment Bill. The AIADMK abstained from voting, demanding giving chief ministers and governors a say in the appointment of judges.
The Constitution(One Hundred Twenty First Amendment) Bill, renamed as Constitution 99th Amendment, was passed by 367 votes in favour and none against.
It secured a majority of the total number of members in the House and not less than two thirds present and voting, a requirement for passing any bill that seeks to amend the Constitution. Thereafter, as AIADMK members abstained, the House passed the Judicial Appointments Bill by a voice vote.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Constitution 121st Amendment Bill was renamed as 99th Amendment Bill because it was discovered that some more Constitution Amendment Bills were pending, necessitating its renumbering.
The government had, earlier, said that it was bringing in the Bills to do away with the collegium system which was against the original intent of the Constitution. Mr Prasad, moving the Bill on August 11, had, however, assured the House that the government had no intention of interfering in the working of the judiciary.
He said the Bill was aimed at restoring the supremacy of Parliament by giving the executive a say in the appointment of judges, a power which had been encroached upon by the misinterpretation of a 1993 ruling of the Supreme Court.
N K Premachandran of the Congress did not press for his three amendments in the Bill, saying he was withdrawing in view of the government’s assurance of not interfering in the functioning of the judiciary and the list of judges’ vacancies being made available by the Department of Justice. The AIADMK also did not press for its one amendment. The process of passing the Constitution Amendment Bill took about two hours as division of vote was done through slips and not by electronic voting since division numbers were yet to be allotted in the House.