New Delhi: Two days after the government notified the controversial NJAC law to remove the collegium system of appointment of judges, a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will commence hearing from tomorrow to examine the validity of new measure and is likely to consider passing an interim order to staying the operation of the Act. A three-judge bench of the apex court on April 7 had referred to a five-judge Constitution Bench, a batch of petitions challenging the validity of National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act to replace the two-decade-old collegium system of appointing judges to higher judiciary.
The court had refused to stay the implementation of law with the observation that all the issues arising out of the petitions would be decided by the Constitution Bench. Two days thereafter, the Chief Justice of India H L Dattu Constituted the Constitution Bench comprising Justices A R Dave, J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel to hear the matter. Justices Joseph and Goel are the two new judges in the bench while the other three had heard the matter before thinking it fit that the issues in the pleas required to be adjudicated by a larger bench.
However on April 13, the government notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act along with a Constitutional Amendment Act (99th Amendment Act) to give constitutional status to the new body to appoint judges.
NJAC was signed into an Act by President Pranab Mukherjee on December 31, 2014. Under the collegium system which came into existence in 1993 after a Supreme Court judgement, five top judges of the apex court recommend transfer and elevation of judges to Supreme Court and 24 High Courts.
According to the new Article 124(A) inserted in the Constitution, two eminent persons will be nominated to the Commission as members by the committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha or where there is no such LoP, then the leader of single largest Opposition party.
One of the eminent persons will be nominated from among the persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities or women.