Centre ‘surprised’ over SC order striking down NJAC , AAP hails it
The law minister said he will consult Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior colleagues before deciding the government’s next course of action.india Updated: Oct 16, 2015 21:26 IST
Union law minister Sadananda Gowda said on Friday the Supreme Court order quashing the government’s role in the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary came as a “surprise”.
“We brought the will of the people. Hundred per cent of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha have supported the bill. Voters are represented by Parliament members. Twenty state legislatures have supported the bill,” Gowda told reporters shortly after the apex court struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act that sought to replace the collegium system.
The law minister said he will consult Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior colleagues before deciding the government’s next course of action.
“I will discuss with my law officers, and I will discuss with my senior cabinet colleagues and Prime Minister, then we will decide on the next step we need to take.”
Another Union minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, pointed out that several eminent judges in the past, including VR Krishna Iyer and MN Venkatachaliah, had pointed out flaws in the collegium system.
“The Supreme Court’s willingness to take suggestions for improving collegium system means there was something wrong with it,” Prasad said.
The constitution bench, which delivered the verdict against NJAC, ruled that the NJAC was against the independence of the judiciary and the basic structure of the Constitution.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi denied any confrontation between the government and the judiciary over the issue, but said the collegium system of appointment of judges is “opaque”.
However, Rohatgi ruled out the option of seeking review in the matter saying, “I don’t think it is a case for review at all as the verdict is detailed and runs into over a thousand pages.”
Congress spokesperson RS Surjewala said the Congress respected the judgment, which restored the two-decade-old collegium system for the appointment of judges.
“Independence of the judiciary is a key factor in our democracy and there can never be a compromise with that,” Surjewala said.
The Aam Aadmi Party welcomed the decision, saying it was a “great blow” to NDA government which had brought the law.
“SC judgement on NJAC is historic. The judgement is a great blow to the Central government that is trying to make judiciary committed to itself. This govt made CJI as governor. That was brazen,” AAP spokesperson Ashutosh tweeted.
The Centre had earlier defended the introduction of the new law, saying the collegium system where judges appointed judges was not free from defects.
Under the law the Chief Justice of India, two senior-most SC judges, the Union law minister and two eminent persons were to constitute the NJAC.
(With agency inputs)