National Judicial Appointments Commission

The Supreme Court collegium system of appointing judges to the apex court and high courts got a burial with President Pranab Mukherjee giving his assent to the judicial appointments commission bill.
The bill has already been ratified by at least 17 states and many more are in the process of doing so. It is mandatory for a constitutional amendment bill after it is passed by both Houses of Parliament to be ratified by at least half of the states. This brings to an end a system which the apex court had put in place through a judgment in 1993 to do away with the earlier practice of the government appointing judges.
The process of replacing the collegium with a panel was initiated during the first NDA government through a bill in 2003 but it was never taken up by Parliament. After Modi took over, Ravi Shankar Prasad, law minister in the first NDA government, initiated the NJAC bill and pursued political parties to evolve a consensus. The government will shortly notify the new Constitutional amendment replacing the SC collegium with the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). After the notification, the process of setting up of the NJAC will begin as provided under an enabling legislation which has been passed by Parliament along with the Constitution amendment bill.
The enabling NJAC bill provides for a six-member commission headed by the chief justice of India and comprising two senior SC judges as its members besides two eminent persons and the law minister. The two eminent persons in the commission will be appointed by a panel comprising the CJI, the Prime Minister and the leader of the largest opposition party in Lok Sabha. The NJAC also has provision for a veto where it provides that no name opposed by two or more of the six-member body can go through. The two eminent persons will have a tenure of three years and one of them would be from one of the following categories: scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women or the minority community .
After the NJAC is set up, a name recommended for appointment as judge to the SC or high courts can be returned by the President for reconsideration. Though an initial recommendation to the President for appointment can be made by a 5-1 majority , this would not suffice to re-recommend the same name.
If a name is returned for reconsideration, the committee can reiterate the name only if there is unanimity among the members after reconsideration.

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