NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was the will of the people to have transparent, accountable and criteria-based appointment of judges through the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) instead of the Collegium System whose working was not transparent. Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi told the Constitution Bench that Parliament and the 20 state Assemblies, which have backed the NJAC, are the people who wanted to change the way judges were appointed all these years.
The AG began his arguments before the Bench comprising Justice J S Khehar, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel. He stressed the fact that the NJAC does not compromise the independence of judiciary.
Asserting that there was no primacy of judiciary in the Constitution, Rohatgi told the court that the right to insist on an appointment is not available to the judicial members of the NJAC, comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) and two next seniormost judges.
Describing the argument by the petitioners challenging the NJAC as trivial wherein it should have five members, Rohatgi said that the number of the members could not be a ground for challenging its independence. The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the Constitution’s Ninety Nine Amendment Act, 2014 and NJAC Act, 2014.
However, on being questioned by the court, he conceded that even the appointment of judges formed a part of independence of judiciary but a very small one. Defending the NJAC, Rohatgi contended that under the new system, the government’s powers in the appointment of judges had been diluted, as it was one of the six members of the NJAC.
The arguments will continue on Tuesday.
The Bench and the AG exchanged a war of words when Rohtagi used the phrase judges appointing judges to attack the Collegium System and observing that B R Ambedkar would have turned over in his grave at the way the power was taken away from the Executive.“What is this? You use it just because this is a catchy phrase,” the Bench said.
SC Extends stay on AIPMT results
The Supreme Court on Monday extended till June 12 the stay on declaration of results of the CBSE’s All India Pre-Medical Test, when the court may take a call on pleas seeking re-conduct of the test following alleged irregularities in the May 3 examination. A vacation bench of justices R K Agrawal and Amitava Roy granted the time after the CBSE sought listing of the matter for Friday. “The matter will be heard on Friday (June 12),” the bench said. Earlier, the SC had asked Haryana police to file a fresh report.