Law Minister Kapil Sibal today faced an embarrassing situation in the Rajya Sabha and was forced to apologise after a technical error was detected in a Constitutional amendment bill which paves way for the creation on a new system of appointment of judges in the country.
"I am deeply anguished with the fact that Constitutional Amendment Bill could not be taken up by Lok Sabha," Sibal said after Opposition members created an uproar, saying the legislation was rushed through in the Upper House but not taken up in the Lower House which was adjourned sine die yesterday.
He explained that there was an error in the title of the bill. When introduced, it was titled Constitution (120th) Amendment Bill, but when passed it should have read as Constitution (99th) Amendment Bill.
"The Secretariat realised some error has taken place. The patent error was immediately intimated to the Chairman who corrected it and transmitted to Lok Sabha. The bill was printed and ready for passage. However, I regret despite our best efforts it could not be taken up by Lok Sabha. It was not intentional," he said.
The bill was passd by the Rajya Sabha two days back amid a walkout by BJP which wanted it to be referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
The Constitution Amendment Bill paves way fore creation of a Judicial Appointments Commission to recommend appointment and transfer of judges of the Supreme Court and the 24 High courts.
The main bill - the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013 which which defines the establishment of the proposed body has already been referred to the Standing Committee.
"I say once again that despite our best efforts, I am sorry that the bill could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. I regret it," Sibal said seeking to silence the opposition which was not allowing the House to function till he apologised.
BJP used the opportunity to attack the government.
BJP Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Home work was not done. We were misled into passing it...The minister has committed a mistake, he should feel sorry for his act. Law Minister should apologise to the House. He must apologise, anguish would not do."
Earlier, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said government was keen on taking the bill for passage in 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 Lok Sabha)," Nath said.
Attacking Sibal for not sending the bill to the Standing Committee as desired by majority of members in Rajya Sabha, BJP created ruckus leading to two adjournments soon after the House met for the day. BJP also charged the government with not doing its home work.
Prasad said the entire opposition wanted such an important bill to be sent to the Standing Committee as it was an important judicial legislation.