National Judicial Appointment Commission: Pros and Cons

National Judicial Appointment Commission: Pros and Cons

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Keen to scrap the collegiums system, government brought a constitution Amendment Bill to establish a six-member body for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and High courts. The Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad introduced the National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill, 2014 along with the Constitutional Amendment Bill. NJAC is a proposed body responsible for the appointment and transfer of judges in the higher judiciary in India, insuring that the persons recommended are of skill, value and other set of rules mentioned in the regulations related to the act. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 11 August, 2014 by Law Minister. The Bill has been introduced in conjunction with the Constitutional (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014, which establishes the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).

It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 14 August, 2014. Earlier on 13 August 2014 the two bills were passed by the Lok Sabha by voice vote. As per the provisions of the Bill, the chief justice of India will head the NJAC. Besides the CJI, the judiciary would be represented by two senior judges of the Supreme Court. Two eminent personalities and the Law Minister will be the other members of the proposed body. The two eminent personalities will be selected by a collegium of Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha or the leader of the single-largest opposition party in the Lower House. One of the eminent persons will be nominated from among the persons belonging to the SCs, STs, and OBCs, minorities or women. The term of the two eminent person will be a period of three years with a provision that they cannot be re-nominated.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill seeks to amend Article 124 (2) of the Constitution that provides for the appointment of the judges of higher judiciary and new articles, Article 124A, Article 124B and Article 124C need to be inserted for the composition and functioning of NJAC. To overcome the fear of judiciary, the composition of the Commission has been given a constitutional status to ensure that any future government does not tweak the composition through an ordinary legislation. While the Constitution Amendment Bill requires two-thirds majority, an ordinary bill requires a simple majority.

Rajasthan Legislative Assembly became the first to ratify the Bill. The new Bill would bring more transparency in judicial system, including judges appointments, and filling up the vacant posts in the Supreme Court and would be a milestone in the history of judiciary. The NJAC Bill and Constitutional Amendment Bill was ratified by the 16 of the state legislatures in India, and afterwards assented by the President of India on 31st December, 2014.

There have been certain different opinions of people about the positive and negative sides of NJAC Bill. But as we all know that each coin has two faces, similar is the case with the National Judicial Appointment Commission.

It has been a fact the collegium system over the years has come under severe criticism on account of opaqueness in appointment and transfer of judges of higher judiciary. Besides, the growing corruption and nepotism within the judiciary calls for transparency. The recent revelation by justice (retd) Markandey Katju and justice Dinakaran case is a pointer towards reforming the judiciary. The collegium system has also been criticized as it does not provide an adequate tenure for the chief justices of the High Courts, the consultation process is secretive and unknown to the judiciary and the public , and the meritorious and deserving candidates from the bar and high court are denied an opportunity to serve on the bench for undisclosed reasons.

NJAC will put the boundary around the judiciary in scrutinizing the executive’s with intent to deceive actions and it’s overextend.
It will negotiation the independence of judiciary which has been cornerstone in guarantee the peoples’ faith in democracy. Besides, it is argued that the NJAC has not put forward an objective procedure for appointments. These consist of rules to make transparency in nominations, measure for review the fitness of the candidates and objective guidelines for finalizing deserving aspirants. Judges must also be made certain of tenure as well as a satisfactory tenure period through the new system.