Government notifies NJAC for appointment of apex, high court judges
New Delhi: Even as a five judge bench of the Supreme Court will commence hearing on Wednesday the challenge to the constitutional validity of the constitutional amendment act and an act setting up the National Judicial Appointments Commission to replace the collegium system for appointment of judges, the government on Monday notified both laws.
“The government today notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 and the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 for bringing in a change in the existing system for appointment of judges in Supreme Court and high courts,” said an official release.
“The acts provide for a transparent and broad-based process of selection of judges of the Supreme Court and high courts by the National Judicial Appointments Commission,” it said, adding the NJAC, chaired by the chief justice of India, will comprise two seniormost apex court judges, the union law and justice minister and two eminent people – thus having an equal number of judicial and non-judicial members.
Besides other things, the most controversial part of the NJAC is that any two members can veto any name before them for consideration for appointment or elevation to the higher judiciary including the appointment of the CJI.
The NJAC Act, 2014 provides that the two eminent people would be chosen by a committee comprising the prime minister, leader of opposition or that of largest party in Lok Sabha and the CJI, and one of them should be from the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities or women.
The government move to notify the acts came even as a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Madan B. Lokur April 7 had referred the matter to a larger bench including the question of putting on hold its implementation till the larger bench decided on the issue.
The Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association, NGO Change India, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), Bar Association of India and others had moved the court challenging the NJAC while the Supreme Court Bar Association had come out in the favour of it.