NJAC review: SC refuses specific date for hearing plea

 The Supreme Court today refused to give a specific date to hear a plea seeking review of its 2015 verdict striking down the NJAC Act and another related law, which had led to the revival of the collegium system for appointment of judges, saying there was no hurry.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said several other important cases were pending and it would see when this matter can be accommodated.

“Others are waiting, there are more important cases. You leave at that. You have made your submissions. We will see,” the bench observed.

The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act 2014 would have accorded a major role to the executive in appointing judges to the higher judiciary. The NJAC was perceived by some in the legal fraternity as an attempt to interfere with the independence of judiciary.

The matter was mentioned by advocate Mathews J Nedumpara seeking urgent listing of the plea filed by National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms for re- consideration of the verdict delivered by a five-judge constitution bench.

The review plea has said that 2015 judgement of the top court was “unconstitutional and void”.

During the hearing, Nedumpara said the issue of judges’ appointment was very relevant today and there was a dire need to have a proper system in place.

When the NJAC case was being heard, the matter was “hijacked” by a few selective lawyers, he alleged and said that this matter should be listed for hearing.

The bench took objection to the lawyer’s submissions in a loud tone and warned him saying,”don’t raise your voice.

Nobody needs to raise their voice. Please lower your pitch.

You are making a legal point”.

The lawyer then apologised and said he was sorry for raising his voice.

He also mentioned another plea filed by him in which he has raised the issue of video recording of the proceedings in the apex court.

To this, the bench said, “You leave at that, you have made your submissions. We will see”.

The apex court had on October 16, 2015 struck down the NJAC Act, 2014 to replace the 22-year-old collegium system of judges appointing judges.

While four of the five judges of the constitution bench had held as unconstitutional and void both the NJAC Act and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act 2014, Justice J Chelameswar had upheld the validity of the constitution amendment law.

“The system of appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court and Chief Justices and Judges to the High Courts, and transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts from one High Court to another, as existing prior to the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 (called the “collegium system”), is declared to be operative,” the apex court had then said.

Source : PTI

Allahabad HC quashes summons issued against Jaitley

Allahabad HC quashes summons issued against Jaitley
Allahabad HC quashes summons issued against Jaitley

Allahabad High Court today quashed a summons issued by a Mahoba court against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for criticising the SC decision of striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), according to a lawyer representing him.

The HC quashed the summons issued on October 19 after Jaitley’s advocate Maninder Singh contended that the summoning order was deliberate misuse of judicial office, according to Nalin Kohli who was a part of the defence team of lawyers

As per reports, Kulpahar Civil Judge (Junior Division) Ankit Goel, while taking notice of media reports about Jaitley strongly criticising the SC decision on NJAC set up by the Union government, had issued summons for personal appearance of the Finance Minister on November 19 and directed SP of Mahoba to serve the summons.

Jaitley, while reacting to the SC judgement on NJAC, had said that Indian democracy could not be a “tyranny of the unelected”.

He had said that democracy would be in danger if the elected are undermined.

( Source – PTI )

CJI refuses to be part of panel to select NJAC members : SC

dattuIn a new twist, Chief Justice of India H L Dattu has refused to participate in a three-member panel for selecting two eminent persons in the six-member National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) on whose validity a constitution bench began hearings today.

The five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar, which is hearing the issue of constitutional validity of the new law on appointment of judges to higher judiciary, was told by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that Dattu has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would not participate in the meeting of the panel till the matter is decided by the apex court.

The three-member panel comprises Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition, who are authorised to select and appoint two eminent persons in the six-member NJAC for appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

When it was brought to the notice of the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, it heard the views of various senior advocates on how to proceed with the matter taking into account that in the immediate future there would be the eventuality of appointment of existing additional judges of the high courts whose tenures are coming to an end.After taking note of their views, the judges retired to their chambers and assembled after 15 minutes.

Justice Khehar said that the bench has decided to continue with the hearing on the merits of the case and if needed it will pass an interim order.

“A consensus has emerged that we will continue with the merits of the case and when it is necessary we will pass an interim order,” the bench said.

The AG submitted that it is mandatory for the CJI to be the part of the panel in selection and appointment of eminent persons in the six-member commission.He said a direction should be passed for the CJI to participate in the meeting.

However, his view was not shared by senior advocate Fali S Nariman, who is appearing for Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), said that if the CJI is not participating, the bench can direct others to meet and participate.

The apex court also sought the view of senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who said, that the bench has to see if prima facie, a case for staying the operation of NJAC Act is made out or not.
However, senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Haryana government and supporting the new law, submitted that the bench can continue with the hearing as the question of additional judges of high courts will arise only on May 20 and in the meantime if the hearing goes on the judges will get the grasp of what is going to be the prima facie view.
Salve further said that the bench has to, on one hand, consider the sensitivity of the head of the judicial family that is the CJI, and the will of the Parliament which led to the constitution of the NJAC, on the other.
He also said let the matter be heard for seven-eight days and then a view can be taken on the entire issue.
“Today we are at the very initial stage,” Salve said, adding that staying the amendment at this stage will not be the right thing to do.
On April 23, the apex court had said that NJAC will only deal with appointment of existing additional judges of High Courts, whose tenures are ending during pendency of the controversy, after it was assured by the AG that commission will not appoint judges to the higher judiciary and will move the court in such an eventuality.
Earlier, the bench had asked Rohatgi to take instruction from competent authority about the additional judges in high courts whose tenure is coming to an end in the immediate future when the matter will be pending before the court.
The AG had said that barring four-five cases, all recommendations of erstwhile collegium have been accepted.
On the issue of re-appointment or extension of additional HC judges, Rohatgi had said that tenures of two or three judges of Assam High Court, seven to eight in the Bombay High Court are ending in June and hence, the issue be “kept open” till May 11 as the NJAC is likely to be constituted by May 4.
The process to appoint two eminent persons in the six- member NJAC “will commence shortly” and the panel is “likely to commence working on May 4”, he had said.
The bench had said that the NJAC Act has to implemented as it has neither been stayed nor set aside.
Rohatgi had refuted the submission of Nariman that two eminent citizens, who would become part of the NJAC, will be embarrassed if the Act is set aside and said that they would be knowing that a litigation is pending.

What they said: SC refuses NJAC petitions but leaves door ajar

supreme courtThe Supreme Court bench of justices Anil Dave, Chelameshwar and AK Sikri has declined to entertain the five writ petitions against the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) bill.
What they said

Fali Nariman eloquently argued why it is not a premature matter. He said he is all for the NJAC but not in its present format. Earlier, in 2003, the JAC had an odd number of members (five) which was better than the NJAC’s system of six members. If only two oppose an appointment, it doesn’t go through. In the present NJAC there are three Supreme Court judges so if any of the other two reject a candidature, then there is no primacy of judges’ opinion.

Ex-additional solicitor general and petitioner Bishwajit Bhattacharya argued that the matter was already covered by a 1978 reference, where, according to him, even a bill can be challenged and constitutional amendments can be challenged despite the entire process not having completed.

Petitioner ML Sharma raised several eyebrows by talking about parliamentary procedure and arguing, how can there be a commission under article 124A when such an article does not exist.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi confidently argued for the government saying that the writs were premature.

Justice Sikri was very vocal, Justice Dave a little annoyed by the Mumbai lawyer’s behaviour, and Justice Chelameshwar was attentive on giving inputs.

(Source: PTI)