The Supreme Court verdict on the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, today evoked mixed reactions from legal experts with some former apex court judges hailing it for upholding independence of judiciary while some veterans termed the collegium system a failure.
Welcoming the judgement, former Chief Justice of IndiaJustice Altamas Kabir and ex-Supreme Court Judge Justice A K Ganguly expressed pride in the Indian judicial system, saying the decision restored independence of judiciary, a view not shared by former Delhi High Court judge Justice R S Sodhi, who said the verdict shows lack of trust on Parliament’s maturity.
Giving thumbs up to the verdict, Justice Kabir said, “I have always been against NJAC and I find it unconstitutional as it seeks to give the biggest litigants in this country a hand in the appointments of the judges who will judge them. Independence of judiciary is imperative if democracy is to survive.”
Echoing the opinion of the former judges, ex-Law Minister H R Bhardwaj said, “I am happy today. For the last one year there have been no judicial appointments, people have been crying for justice. This one limb of the state– Judiciary– is above criticism. Democracy recognises the independence of judiciary which is the heart and soul of the Constitution.”
“NJAC has been supported by both the houses. The bill was not passed by Centre but byParliament unanimously,” he said.
Criticising the collegium system, former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee and senior advocate K T S Tulsi said it was already acknowledged that it was a failed system and that when the Parliament unanimously adopts a law, it cannot be called interference in independence of judiciary.
“Does this Act really strike on the independence of the judiciary, I don’t think so. There were a few things which could have created some problems like appointment of eminent persons and some other provisions but those could have been read down,” Sorabjee said.
However, Bhardwaj strongly opposed the NJAC saying it “entitled outsiders to participate in appointments. Judges are always recommended by judiciary and Centre is only consulted.”
Echoing his view, senior advocate Indira Jaising and lawyer Prashant Bhushan hailed the decision saying it upheld the fundamental constitutional provision which maintained the separation between judiciary and executive and cautioned that verdict be not polarised.
Bhushan, who had represented one of the petitoners against the NJAC, said that judicial independence is backbone of the Constitution and the Act could have influenced that.
( Source – PTI )