SC reserves verdict on NJAC

The Bench questions law’s future impact on independence of judiciary

July 16, 2015 03:30 am | Updated November 17, 2021 01:00 am IST - NEW DELHI:

After marathon court hearings spanning over a month, the Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on the constitutionality of the NDA government's National Judicial Appointments Commission laws replacing the Collegium system of judicial appointments to the highest courts.

The day-long session saw the five judges on the Constitution Bench led by Justice J.S. Khehar take turns to engage in frequent thrust-and-parry duels with Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi about various provisions in the NJAC Act of 2015.

The Bench also comprising Justices J. Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A.K. Goel questioned the top law officer on the judicial appointment law’s future impact, even hypothetical, on independence of judiciary and justice delivery system.

Finally, it was Mr. Rohatgi who summed up by saying that “change is good, but one is always hesitant about change.” Delivering a short order, Justice Khehar said the extension of the terms of ad-hoc judges would continue till the Constitution Bench delivers this judgment.

To a question whether the judgment would be pronounced at least by September this year, Justice Khehar merely said “you will not be disappointed”.

‘For flexibility’

During the hearing, when the AG took the court through the various provisions of the NJAC law, Justice Kurian Joseph intervened to ask whether the convention that the senior most judge in the Supreme Court becoming the CJI should be retained.

To this, Mr. Rohatgi responded that the idea of NJAC is to allow some sort of flexibility. “What if the senior most judge does not deliver judgments or there are complaints about his temperament in court?” Mr. Rohatgi responded.

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