BCI: what does ‘eminent persons’ mean?

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New Delhi, August 24; The Bar Council of India has once again urged the government not to rush through the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, which seeks to replace the collegium system for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

The proposed commission will have the Chief Justice of India, two seniormost judges of the Supreme Court, the Union Law Minister, two eminent persons to be nominated by a committee comprising the Prime Minister, the CJI and the Leader of the Opposition, and the Union Law Secretary.

In a statement on Friday, BCI Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra and spokesperson S. Prabakaran said the meaning of ‘eminent’ persons appeared vague and meaningless. Moreover, when the Centre was the litigant in 80 per cent of the cases, how could it appoint a judge?

“We fail to understand how the Law Ministry will gather the names for appointment of judges to different High Courts. Further, how would the so-called eminent persons be able to assess the knowledge, merit, ability or integrity of the persons to be appointed as judges?” The Ministry should not to be in a hurry to get the Bill, which was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday, passed in Parliament without any seminar or discussion with the Bar, they said.

Law Minister Kapil Sibal has not accepted the BCI’s suggestion to include its members in the proposed commission.

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