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Executive–Judiciary face–off

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 May 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Uncertainty is looming large over the appointment of additiol judges

in various High Courts whose two–year terms are to end soon. Questions

are also being raised as to when 251 vacant posts of judges in High

Courts and three vacancies in the Supreme Court will be filled. This

uncertainty stems from the refusal of Chief Justice of India H L Dattu’s

to join the tiol Judicial Appointments Commission, because the

NJAC’s constitutiol validity is itself being challenged in the apex

court. After Parliament passed the NJAC Act to replace the collegium

system of appointing judges, the Supreme Court refused to stay the new

law. So the rendra Modi government notified the law and is now moving

to make it operatiol. As part of this move, the Chief Justice of India

will have to head the six–member NJAC, with its other five members to

be two seniormost Supreme Court judges, the Union Law minister and two

eminent persons. The new law mandates that these two eminent persons

will be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, the Leader of

Opposition or Leader of the largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha,

and the Chief Justice of India. The CJI’s refusal to join this panel has

brought into focus the face–off between the Judiciary and the

Executive. It is now feared that if this stalemate continues, it will

further lead to increased pendency. At the end of February last, a total

of 61,300 cases were pending in the Supreme Court, while around 45 lakh

cases are pending in 24 High Courts. The earlier collegium system was

abolished due to perceived shortcomings in the appointment of judges,

but the Supreme Court may find parts of the new NJAC law impinging on

the independence of the Judiciary, and could strike these parts down.

The problem is that in India, the roles played by the Legislature and

the Executive have left much to be desired. So the Judiciary had to move

out of its role of being the custodian of the Constitution and

interpreting the law. In chasing black money abroad, making coal block

allotment transparent, cleaning up the air of Delhi or even ensuring

proper and timely update of NRC in Assam, the Supreme Court has had to

play an activist role. For the good of the country therefore, this

face–off needs to be resolved amicably and soon.

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