The Supreme Court verdict striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission legislation as “unconstitutional and void” has evoked mixed reactions from the legal fraternity. While some have deemed it “an error,” others welcomed it as necessary to preserve the independence of the judiciary.
Former Attorney-General Soli Sorabjee said he was surprised by the judgment, adding, “it is accepted that the Collegium system has failed, and while there may be legitimate concerns about the choice of eminent persons in the NJAC, striking down the whole Act was not warranted. The central question is: do the judges appoint themselves, or can there be other voices too in their appointment? I believe, so long as the voice of the judiciary is not diminished, we cannot rule out other voices.”
Raju Ramachandran echoed the sentiments expressed by Mr. Sorabjee, though in stronger terms. “I am disappointed by the judgment,” he said, “which seems to proceed from a deep distrust of the political class. Along with an independent judiciary, a system of checks and balances is also very much a part of the basic structure of the Constitution. In this sense, to say that neither the political class nor civil society can have a say in judicial appointments militates against the democratic principle.”
Senior Supreme Court advocate Dushyant Dave, who has argued in favour of the NJAC, said that “the SC was mistaken in holding the NJAC as unconstitutional. On the contrary, the NJAC was expanding on the original scheme of the Constituent Assembly wherein the government had a say in judicial appointments. The Collegium system, on the other hand, has not produced the best of judges and the judiciary has suffered as a result.”