Having criticised the Supreme Court verdict shooting down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to revive the opaque collegium system, the government said on Friday it will implement the verdict but the debate for a better system of appointing judges will continue.
“We are heading in a direction where the NJAC is gone. The Supreme Court, rightly or wrongly, has given a judgment. The judgment has to be complied with …The judgment will be complied with. And, therefore, the system will remain. But the debate for a better system will always continue,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said.
Jaitley, a reputed lawyer and former law minister, was taking part in a debate on the SC verdict on the NJAC with former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha on Times Now TV channel.
Jaitley was supported by former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee in his arguments against the SC verdict while senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan was on Justice Lodha’s side. Justice Lodha admitted the collegiums system was opaque and needed to be made transparent.
Jaitley’s statement comes three days after Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said the government was mature enough to accept the SC’s verdict.
“Everybody has a viewpoint and it is their right to express it. However, I expect them (the government) to respect and accept the verdict,” Dattu told HT on Tuesday. The CJI had expressed hope the government would not react negatively to the verdict.
“As a judge, citizen and litigant I respect the verdict. This is by a constitution bench and shall continue to be the law until it’s overturned by a larger bench,” Justice Dattu had said.
A day after the SC on October 16 quashed the constitutional amendment and the new law that replaced the collegium system with a six-member panel in which the executive had a say in the judicial appointments, Jaitley had hit out at the verdict in a Facebook post.
“Politician bashing is the key to the judgment…There is no constitutional principle that democracy and its institutions have to be saved from elected representatives,” Jaitley had said. A disclaimer at the end of the post read, “The views expressed are personal”.
Besides Jaitley, law minister Sadamand Gowda and telecom minister Ravishankar Prasad too had criticized the SC verdict for ignoring the will of the people and Parliament.
During the debate, Jaitley said the independence of the judiciary was a basic feature of the constitution but other basic features such as parliamentary sovereignty and separation of power can’t be given the go-by.