The Telegraph
Thursday , August 14 , 2014
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Give and take on judge bill

New Delhi, Aug. 13: The Lok Sabha today passed a bill that seeks to change the way judges are appointed after the Centre accepted a Congress demand to drop a provision that required unanimity in recommendation if the President sought reconsideration.

The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha.

In the Lok Sabha, a sole amendment dropped the word “unanimous” from a clause that said all members of the commission that picks judges have to agree to the proposals if the President sends them back.

The bill seeks to replace the present collegium system — which has only judges as members — with a judicial appointments commission, which will have as members three judges, the law minister and two eminent persons.

Government sources said the amendment was incorporated to ensure that the bill was “legally fool-proof”.

The Lok Sabha also passed the 99th Constitution amendment bill to grant constitutional status to the commission. This bill was passed with 367 members voting in favour and none against.

The voting was done through paper ballots. Electronic voting was skipped as the seating sequence of MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha has not been finalised yet.

Preferences being pressed by the AIADMK, Trinamul Congress and the Biju Janata Dal are said to be among the reasons behind the seating arrangement delay.

The three regional parties, who have a substantial number of MPs, have expressed reservations about sharing the front-row seats with the Congress, reduced to just 44 seats.

The Congress cannot get all the five front-row seats to the Speaker’s left. So the Speaker wanted other Opposition parties to share the seats with Sonia Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge. But the regional parties were not keen to be seen on TV sharing space with Sonia and run the risk of losing their “identity”, sources said.

“It is not about sitting with someone. We have written to the Speaker to allot seats in the descending order. Let the left row be occupied by the UPA, then the AIADMK, followed by Trinamul and then the BJD,” BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab said.

Sources said the “unwanted” front-row seats might be allotted to Mulayam Singh Yadav and H.D. Deve Gowda.

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