Centre says to Supreme Court: Collegium system “Completely Illegal”

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On Wednesday the Union Government said, selection of judges through CJI headed collegium system as “completely illegal” and that National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) has made it broad-based and transparent.

Attorney-General MukulRohatgi said “There is a consensus in the country that all is not well with the collegium system. Our argument is that the collegium is completely illegal”.  He also contented that, as per the experience, everything is not well with collegium system and it has also been criticised by the judges of apex court too. He further stated that, B R Ambedkar, the maker of our constitution had envisaged a major role for executive in appointing the judges to higher Judiciary which reflected in the constitutional provisions.

Justices A R Dave, J Chelameswar and M B Lokur heard the matter and AG submitted before them, that unless the Central Government states in the notification the law should remain dormant.

Contention of AG was that Senior Advocate Fali S Nariman had questioned the government for not adopting model of 5 member collegium which was recommended in M N Venkatachaliah Commission and AG also said that Government opted on NJAC with 6 members instead of following the Commission’s report. Nariman replied to this stating that there was a commission to review the Constitution under former Chief Justice, M N Venkatachaliah, on how to appoint the judges to higher judiciary and it had recommended for NJC which was discussed as an integral part to preserve judicial independence.

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Union Government said that the collegium system of judicial appointments to higher courts, that was put in place in 1993,which is nearly 21-year-old, does not guarantee that best judges can be appointed only through judges.

NJAC Act which was ratified by 20 states has recently received the President’s assent but it is yet to be notified by the Central Government.

Speaking further on the pleas challenging the NJAC, Rohatgi said: “It is not somebody’s fundamental right to be appointed as judge. The petitioners cannot claim any injury caused to them through the proposed law.”

Supreme Court is hearing the petitions challenging the validity of Constitutional Amendment Act and NJAC Act are maintainable or not. Supreme Court Bar Association along with its President and Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave also supported Centre stating that this matter should not be heard at all since the law has not come into force yet.

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by Sushma Javare.