SC to decide strength of Bench in NJAC case first

A larger Bench may go into the merits of the case

Updated - November 16, 2021 05:06 pm IST

Published - May 11, 2015 08:44 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court said on Monday that it would first decide on referring the challenge to the new system of appointment of judges to a larger Bench of nine or 11 judges before going into the merits of the case.

The court said it would pass an order on appointment of additional judges of High Courts whose tenure was ending, because the National Judicial Appointments Commission was not in place yet.

“We all have tentatively agreed on this that we will first decide the issue of reference [to a larger Bench] and then take a call on the entire matter,” a five-judge Constitution Bench, headed by Justice J.S. Khehar, said.

“If it is referred to a larger Bench, then the matter has to be heard from beginning by a new Bench,” the Bench said. Justices J. Chelameswar, M.B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel are in the present Bench. Senior lawyers Fali S. Nariman and Ram Jethmalani, who are arguing against the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) Act, said the referral would be a “futile exercise” and the court would only open a “Pandora’s box”.

Stay sought

Mr. Nariman demanded a stay on the operation of the NJAC. The Bench pacified him saying “nothing is happening in the NJAC and still the issue of eminent members in the panel has not been taken up.”

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