‘NJAC will involve civil society’

June 12, 2015 02:40 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:00 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The Centre on Thursday said the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is founded on the “broad-based” philosophy that leaders of civil society, who may otherwise have nothing to do with the judicial field, should also have a say in judicial appointments.

The fourth day of hearings on the plea against the new NJAC law saw the five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Justice J.S. Khehar, question the government’s repeated claims that the new law is “broad-based and transparent.”

The Centre responded by questioning the Collegium system’s wisdom that only judges possess the temperament and know-how to recommend persons for judicial appointments, and justified the role of two “eminent persons,” who embody civil society, on the six-member NJAC panel.

Women presence in judiciary

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi launched an attack on the “obvious male dominance” in the judiciary despite the fact that 50 per cent of the country’s population are women. Mr. Rohatgi blamed “lack of sensitisation” for the reduced presence of women in the judiciary.

“That’s why Parliament has passed a law, making a broad-based body, including CJI, two senior-most judges, Law Minister and two eminent persons, for the purpose,” the A-G said.

Here, the Bench retorted by asking Mr. Rohatgi whether the new Act has provided for the selection of more women.

“Why don’t you say there would be certain number of women, SC/STs, OBCs and minorities in the selection? It is not there in the law,” Justice Khehar said.

The court also asked whether the government, by making the details of judicial appointments accountable under the Right to Information Act, is unnecessarily giving reasons to defame rejected applicants.

“What about the image of a lawyer whose application is rejected? Will it not tarnish his image if it is open for the public to seek information why his case was not considered? Now every citizen has got an interest in judiciary, according to you,” the Bench said.

To this, Mr. Rohatgi said the finer aspects of disclosure of information would be worked out eventually, but this apprehension cannot compromise the NJAC’s commitment to transparency as a public body acting for the “greater good.”

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