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Government can’t be out of NJAC, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the idea of totally removing government participation in the appointment process under the National Judicial Appointments Commission, reasoning that there was no way other than banking on the government machinery to gather credible intelligence inputs on persons considered for judicial appointments.

The debate was triggered by counsel Anil Divan, who said the NJAC Act was flawed as the commission would be totally dependent on inputs from government departments.

Mr. Divan argued that for an agency to be independent, it should have an independent secretariat.

“But you have to trust someone. What if we remove the Executive from the appointment process? How will they [NJAC] get information? Only the government has the machinery to gather intelligence on the sensitivity, family, integrity, etc., of a person under consideration ... This is the fact, whether you like it or not,” Justice J.S. Khehar, who heads the five-judge Constitution Bench, told Mr. Divan.

Mr. Divan went on to point out that the NJAC Act did not spell out the criteria to select “eminent persons”. He wondered if “eminence” in the NJAC Act was the same quality the government had found in a person chosen to head the Film and Television Institute of India.

Meanwhile, the track record of a former Supreme Court judge came up during the hearing for the second consecutive day. This time, Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi produced copies of judgments passed by the former judge to prove his point that the latter had a dismal record.

The Bench had on Thursday confronted Mr. Rohatgi’s claims about the judge. It had even produced a file to prove that the judge did not have a poor performance graph. Confronted by this, Mr. Rohatgi said he would again verify and return to the court. “My information is correct,” Mr. Rohatgi said.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 3:41:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/government-cant-be-out-of-njac-says-supreme-court/article7334359.ece

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