The apex court also holds unconstitutional and void the 99th Constitutional Amendment to bring in NJAC for appointing judges
The Supreme Court, while maintaining that the collegium system for selecting judges will continue, has rejected the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), which was aimed to give the government more say in appointing judges.
The National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014, was challenged in a batch of petitions including by the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association.
Besides contending that the NJAC route for the selection and appointment of judges infringed on the independence of judiciary, the petitioners challenging the NJAC Act, 2014, said it could not have been passed in August 2014 as there was no supporting provision in the constitution. It came into effect only after 31st December assent to the constitutional amendment by President Pranab Mukherjee.
On the other hand, the government contested the maintainability of the petitions, saying that these were premature and academic as statutory provision to bring in the NJAC has not been notified and operationalised.
The government had contended that unless the NJAC was operationalised and someone's rights were affected, there was no cause of action to challenge their validity.
While the Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record Association, NGO Change India, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), Bar Association of India and others had moved the court challenging the appointment of judges to higher judiciary through NJAC route, the Supreme Court Bar Association had come out in the favour of the replacing the collegium system of judges' selection by the NJAC.
Earlier, in April, an apex court bench of Justice Anil R Dave, Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Madan B Lokur had referred to the constitution bench the challenge to the validity of the constitution amendment and enabling law to replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges to higher judiciary.
The SC will hold further hearing on the issue on 3rd November for improving the collegium system of appointment of judges.