NJAC is the will of people: Centre in SC

June 09, 2015 03:06 am | Updated November 16, 2021 05:00 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Terming that the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) as the “will of the people,” the Centre on Monday referred to how the perception among lawmakers is that the Supreme Court Collegium followed a procedure of “you scratch my back, I scratch yours” while recommending judges’ names for appointment.

The comment set the tempo for the constant to-and-fro between the Supreme Court and Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi on the first day of hearing into the merits of the NJAC law, which replaced the Supreme Court Collegium system of judicial appointments.

The court had resumed the hearing after a break of hardly a month, following its decision to not refer the petitions challenging the validity of the NJAC law to a higher Bench for the time being.

In a session which continued through the day, Mr. Rohatgi led detailed arguments to convince the five-judge Constitution Bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar that the “wisdom of Parliament in choosing one model [of judicial appointments] over the other is not open to judicial review.” “There cannot be a debate on which system is good or which system is bad. Parliament decides on a particular model which meets constitutional requirements,” Mr. Rohatgi submitted.

He said 20 States had by now ratified the Constitution Amendment incorporating the NJAC into the Constitution and the law had become the “will of the people.”

Reading out from the discussions held on the NJAC on the floor of Parliament, the AG said these were the “people’s perceptions ... and these perceptions across party lines show there is a requirement for change.”

When Justice Khehar said there was no word among the parliamentarians about “procedure” of the Collegium, Mr. Rohatgi responded “procedure is you scratch your back, I will scratch yours.”

Mr. Rohatgi played on the front foot by submitting that there was no primacy for the judiciary in the Constitution. He said independence of judiciary “predominantly” starts only after judges were appointed.

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