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National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act

Topics covered:

  1. Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
  2. Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

 

National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act

 

What to study?

  • Static Part: A brief overview of NJAC act and the key amendments proposed.
  • Dynamic and Current: Why was it struck down? How it affected judicial supremacy? What’s the way out to fill the vacancies?

 

Context: The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition challenging the striking down of a Constitutional Amendment that sought to give the executive a say in the appointment of top judges on grounds of delay and lack of merit.

 

Background:

On 16 October 2015, in a 4-1 majority verdict, the Supreme Court held that both the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, were unconstitutional as it would undermine the independence of the judiciary.

  • The majority said the two laws affect the independence of the judiciary, and judicial appointments, among other things, should be protected from executive control.

 

About NJAC and the Act:

NJAC is a body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India. JAC Bill sought to replace the collegium system of appointing the judges of Supreme Court and 24 High Courts with judicial appointments commission wherein the executive will have a say in appointing the judges.

  • A new article, Article 124A, (which provides for the composition of the NJAC) was to be inserted into the Constitution.
  • The Bill provided for the procedure to be followed by the NJAC for recommending persons for appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court (SC), and Chief Justice and other Judges of High Courts (HC).

 

According to the bill the commission will consist of the following members:

  • Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)
  • Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India – ex officio
  • The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio
  • Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.

 

Sources: the hindu.

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