Indian SC strikes down new appointment system in higher judiciary
17 October 2015, Nirapad News: Indian Supreme Court today struck down a new law for appointing judges in higher judiciary replacing the existing collegium system, in a landmark judgment after a marathon hearing on the matter for 31 days.
“Supreme Court on Friday declared as unconstitutional the law brought by the NDA government to replace the over two-decade- old collegium system of judges appointing judges in the higher judiciary,” India’s premier PTI news agency reported.
The apex court, it said, also declared as “unconstitutional” the 99th amendment to the Constitution to bring in the Act to replace the collegiums system.
The bench, however, said it was willing to take suggestions for improving the collegium system of appointment of judges and posted the hearing for November 3. According to earlier reports the new act suggested two eminent persons to be nominated to the NJAC as members by a committee consisting of the Prime
Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. A five-judge Constitution bench comprising justices J S Khehar, J ChelameswarM B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A K Goel furthermore rejected the plea of Central government to refer for review to larger bench the 1993 and 1998 verdict of the apex court on the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
With this judgment the five-judge bench reserved its judgment on July 15 on a bunch of pleas challenging the consitutional validity of the NJAC Act and the99th amendment in the Constitution.
Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) and several otherschallenged the new legislation by contending that it aimed at hurting the independence of judiciary.
The central government However had defended the introduction of the new law saying that the two-decade-old collegium system where judges were appointed by judges was not free from defects, an argument which also drew the Supreme Court Bar Association support.
The measure was also supported by 20 state governments which had ratified the NJAC Act and the constitutional amendment. According to the PTI report one of the contentious provisions of the new law was the inclusion of two eminent persons to the NJAC which included ChiefJustice of India, two senior most judges of the apex court and the Union Law Minister.
Law Minister Sadanand Gowda today expressed his disappointment over the Supreme Court judgment while main opposition Congress said it respected the apex court decision as “independence of judiciary was the key factor in the democracy and that can never be compromised”.
Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, however, said in the existing collegium system there is dearth of accountability and transparency.