New Delhi, Sep 5 (PTI) :A Constitutional Amendment Bill paving way for the creation of a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to replace the present collegium system to appoint judges to higher courts was passed in the Rajya Sabha today amid high drama with BJP walking out.
A push by BJP for referring the Constitution (120th Amendment) Bill, 2013 to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on law failed and it was passed by 131 votes in favour and one against.
BJP supported scrapping of the collegium system and replacing it with JAC and walked out as its voice was not heard after passionate arguments between Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Leader of Opposition Arun Jaitley, both noted lawyers.
The main bill – the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 – which defines the establishment of the proposed body was referred to the Standing Committee.
Jaitley said the “piecemeal” approach of the government was not practical as passage of the Constitutional Amendment would create a Constitutional hiatus as the collegium system would be repealed without a new mechanism in place.
He said the Standing Committee could complete its work before the Winter Session and his party would support the bill on the very first day of the next session.
Sibal rejected Jaitley’s apprehension about a Constitutional hiatus and said government will not take the Constitutional amendment for Presidential approval till the JAC bill is passed.
Earlier, government and Opposition were united in criticising the functioning of the judiciary while seeking to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges to higher courts, saying it is essential to restore the delicate balance of power which has been disturbed.
Moving the bill, Sibal said the Executive must have a say in appointment of judges as the present system of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the 24 High Courts has not worked well. .