No more judges appointing judges; 22-yr old collegium system scrapped
The government brought the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act into force on Monday to give the executive a say in appointment of judges.india Updated: Apr 28, 2015 14:42 IST
The government brought the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act into force on Monday to give the executive a say in appointment of judges.
The new law – that received presidential assent on 31 December -- replaces the 22-year-old collegium system that kept the government out of the selection process for Supreme Court and high court judges.
Monday’s notification came hours after the government appointed the 27 high court judges and transferred two others.
They are the last batch of judges to make it to high courts on the recommendation of the collegium headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprising four senior-most SC judges.
From Monday evening, only the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) headed by the Chief Justice of India will have this power.
But if the collegium system of judges appointing judges – that started after a 1993 SC verdict – faced criticism for being opaque, the NJAC too has triggered concerns that it could compromise judicial independence.
Last week, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court had refused to stay the new law and referred a bunch of petitions to a five-judge constitution bench that will begin its hearing on 15 April.
The petitions allege the NJAC had altered the basic structure of the Constitution. This five-judge bench will first decide if it should refer the petitions to a nine-judge bench. The 1993 verdict on judges’ appointment was from a nine-judge bench.
Apart from two senior-most Supreme Court judges, the NJAC will also have the law minister and two eminent jurists as members.
The two jurists will be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, the CJI and leader of opposition – or leader of the largest opposition group – in the Lok Sabha.
Parliament had cleared the judicial appointments commission bill and a constitutional amendment to create the selection panel in August last year.