The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014

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The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 (Act no. 40 of 2014) which has received the assent of President of India on 31st December, 2014 and was enacted with the view to provide for regulation of procedure which the National Judicial Appointments Commission to follow while making recommendations of persons for appointment as the Chief Justice of India and other respective Judges of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and Chief Justices and other Judges of High Courts of the respective States and also to provide for the transfers of such Justices and Judges and for all other relevant matters thereof. The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill was presented in conjunction with the Constitutional (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014, by which the National Judicial Appointments Commission was established by amending Article 124, 127, 128, 224 etc. and providing a new Article i.e. Article 124A, 124B, 124C to the Constitution of India.

The Act under its Section 3 specifies that the headquarters of the National Judicial Appointment Commission should be at Delhi. And also the Act under section 4 makes provisions as to filling up of the vacancies by reference. The provision says that there should be an intimation, which the Central Government is required to give to that Commission in respect of any existing vacancies of Judges in the Hon’ble Supreme Court and also in the Hon’ble High Courts. Such intimations are for having recommendations of the Commission for filling up those vacancies. Not only this, but also the Central Government is required to make reference to the Commission for its recommendations, in respect of any Vacancy which was occurred due to completion of tenure of the Judges of the respective Courts as aforesaid. In such cases the reference is required to make within the period of six months preceding to the date of such vacancies.  Even in case of deaths of any such Judges, the Central Government is required to make reference to the Commission for its recommendations as aforesaid, however, the time period for such reference is given as a period of 30 days from the day of such death occurred.

Moreover, the Act prescribes the procedure, following which the selection of such Judges is to be made. Section 5 of the Act says that, the recommendation in respect of the most senior Judge of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India should be made by the Commission as for appointment of Chief Justice of India. Further, the Commission is required to recommend the names for appointment of Judges of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, based on merits, ability and subject to the provisions of Regulations provided in this behalf. Such Judges of Hon’ble Supreme Court, should be selected from amongst those who are eligible under Article 124, clause (3) of the Constitution of India and the Commission should also have regard to the seniority, merits, etc. However, when from the members of the Commission any two members are not in favour of any names recommendation, then the Commission should not recommend such name. The selection procedure and conditions if any thereof, for the appointment of the Judge of the Supreme Court, should be provided by the Commission by making regulations.

Similarly, the selection procedure of the Judges of Hon’ble High Court is provided under Section 6 of the Act, where for the appointment of Chief Justice of the Hon’ble High Courts, the Commission is required to recommend the names based on seniority of High Court Judges and also ability, merits and other suitability criteria provided under the Regulations to be considered by the Commission while recommending such names. The nominations from the Chief Justice of the concerned Hon’ble High Courts are to taken by the Commission for recommending the names for appointment of the Judges of that

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Hon’ble High Court. And besides this, the Commission is required to consider ability, merits and other suitability criteria specified in the Regulations along with their eligibility prescribed under Article 217, clause (2) of the Constitution of India. However, when from the members of the Commission any two members are not in favour of any names recommendation, then the Commission should not recommend such name. Also the Commission is required to mentioned the views or opinions of the Governor and Chief Minister of the concerned State. The selection procedure and conditions if any thereof, for the appointment of the Chief Justice of the Hon’ble High Court and Judges thereof should be provided by the Commission by making regulations.

As such, on the recommendations made by the Commission, the Hon’ble President of India appoints such Chief Justices or Judges as the case may be under section 7. However, the President can refer the matter for again consideration by Commission if found necessary.

Further, Section 9 is important so far as it is related to transfer of the Judges or even Chief Justices of one Hon’ble High Court to another Hon’ble High Court subject to the Regulation providing procedure in that behalf. And section 11 empowers the Central Government to provide for the Rules consistent to the purpose of this Act and should also provide for matters provided under given clause of this section, in that rules. Similarly, section 12 empowers the Commission to make Regulations, similar to the purpose of this Act and also to provide for other matters enlisted under several clauses of this section.

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 by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.