NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned the Centre over the lack of provisions in the law for removal of two eminent persons from the six-member National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) and asked whether there was any scope for judicial review of their selection.
“These eminent persons would be there for three years. How will you remove them? Therefore, the selection of eminent persons to the Commission has to be unquestionable process or there should be a process of removal,” a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar, said while hearing petitions challenging the validity of the NJAC Act.
The apex court’s observation came after Attorney General (AG) Mukul Rohatgi started advancing arguments on the manner of selection and the roles to be played by two eminent persons on the six-member NJAC.
The AG, while defending the provision for the presence of two eminent persons on the NJAC including one from women, weaker sections, SC/ST and minorities, advocated greater representation of women on the Benches of higher judiciary keeping in view their increasing presence in the bar.
As one judge on the Bench suggested “Why not have some number for women representation in the higher judiciary?” Rohatgi, calling for more “sensitisation” over the issue, said, “It will come when it comes to Parliament”, in a reference to a long-pending Bill on giving 33 per cent reservation to women in legislatures.
Trying to lay stress on the apprehension that the two eminent persons, without any rooting in judiciary, would in no way contribute to the appointment of good judges, Rohatgi said that they represented the will and confidence of the people and would also act as a check and balance on other members.
To the court’s query, he said that the two eminent people needn’t be jurists. But the court was unconvinced, saying, “Eminent person will judge that he is a good lawyer but he will not be a good judge but another person, not a good lawyer, would be an excellent judge.”
Disapproves CALL FOR RTI exemption
While subjecting judges’ appointment to RTI may lead to defamation for those rejected on doubtful integrity, the court disapproved AG’s suggestion to exempt NJAC from RTI act saying, “That you can’t do because your object is transparency”.