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Sep 07, 2013 at 02:45pm IST

Sibal apologises to Opposition for hasty passage of Judicial Appointments Bill

New Delhi: Law and Justice Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday apologised to the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha over hasty passage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 which seeks to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges to higher courts. He said, "I am deeply anguished. I apologise to the Opposition for hasty passage of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill.

Sources said the Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath forced Sibal to apologise as the government was worried that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would stall the House proceedings.

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The government came under attack from the BJP over the hasty passage of the Bill and BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded an apology from the Law Minister for misleading the House. He said, "The Bill was not ready and yet he pressed for the Bill to be passed. The minister must explain to the House why there was an hurry to pass the Bill."

He added, "The party wanted the Bill to be sent to the Standing Committe and the government said it was urgent and yet it was not taken in the Lok Sabha. The government should reply to it."

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The remarks came a day after the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha by 131 votes in favour and one against after a walkout by the BJP rejecting its demand for referring it to a Standing Committee.

The Bill paves the way for creation of a Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) to replace the present collegium system to appoint judges to higher courts.

As the issue was raised, JD(U) leader NK Singh rose to his feet in protest along with Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agrawal, BJP's Thaawar Chand Gehlot and AIADMK's V Maitreyan. They, however, could not be heard in the din.

Kamal Nath said the government was keen on taking the Bill for passage in the Lok Sabha. However, as a result of some patent and technical error, it could not be taken up. "If process had been gone through, we could have taken it up (in the Lok Sabha)," he said.

(With additional information from PTI)