Supreme Court refers pleas challenging NJAC Act to larger bench

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New Delhi | Published: April 8, 2015 12:02:30 AM

Uncertainty over the implementation of the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act will continue for some more time as the Supreme Court...

Uncertainty over the implementation of the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act will continue for some more time as the Supreme Court on Tuesday referred the issue to a five-judge bench.

The NJAC was introduced by the BJP-led government to replace the two decade-old collegium system for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices A R Dave, J Chelameswar and Madan B Lokur while refusing to stay the notification of the Act said the issue needed a thorough look by a larger constitutional bench. The court has prima facie rejected the government’s stand that it was too premature for the court to decide on the validity of the NJAC law before it has been notified.

While the President is yet to notify the law, the government, which is awaiting the outcome of the case, claims the Commission, established by law and a constitutional amendment, will strengthen the judiciary. However, the opponents say it will affect the judiciary’s independence. As of now, the government is free to proceed with it.

The apex court had on March 24 reserved the judgement after hearing in-depth Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and senior lawyers Fali S Nariman and Anil Divan, appearing for Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association (SCAORA) and a number of others including Advocate-on-Record Vipin Nair. They argued that it would trample upon the independence of judiciary which had been held sacrosanct.

Terming the law a “still born child”, Nariman had questioned the authority to pass the NJAC Act.

Nariman said that as per constitutional scheme, the NJAC  should not have been passed ahead of the enabling constitutional amendment.

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