NEW DELHI:The Supreme Court on Friday said the new law on appointment of judges should not be seen as good or bad but rather tested on the proposition that whether it conforms to the basic structure of the Constitution or not.
“Don’t put the new law to good or bad. If it meets the parameters of the basic structure, work it out,” a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice J S Khehar observed during arguments on the Constitutional validity of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act (NJAC).
The court’s remark came when senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan opposed the Centre’s submission that the NJAC had an element of hit and trial and it remained to be seen how the new system turned out to be.
“The 99th Amendment is a thoughtless piece. Constitutional amendments are not made for trial. It is too serious an issue and cannot be left to hit and trial. It cannot be put on experimental basis. We cannot experiment with the Constitution,” Dhawan said opposing the NJAC Act.
“Why are we eager that there must be a reform? Everything is not vulnerable to change. What is the compulsion for the change? I agree, at the maximum, there might be a body to look into the performance of the judges. But, not beyond this. The Collegium System was working perfectly. Appointment of judges is not a thing to be entrusted with Parliament. What is the basis of making this change?” Dhawan told the Bench.
On this, the Bench said, “It had been pointed out that no Member of Parliament understands what NJAC was all about.”
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi countered the submission that MPs were not aware about the new law and said it was a dangerous proposition to say that MPs don’t understand NJAC.
Dhawan said the Chief Justice of India, representing judiciary, had the final say in the Collegium System of appointment but the NJAC reduced him to a delegated authority.
At the end of the hearing, the court, which had issued show cause notice to counsel M L Sharma for making derogatory remarks against lawmakers in his PIL, accepted an unconditional apology from him and directed him not to make such remarks without impleading the parties concerned.
The hearing will resume on July 14 when Rohatgi and senior counsel K K Venugopal will commence their final arguments supporting the NJAC Act.