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NJAC Act is still-born: riman tells SC

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  20 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, March 19: The Supreme Court was told on Thursday that the tiol Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014 was a still-born law.

Pointing out that the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 making a constitutiol provisions for NJAC became a reality on January 1, 2015 only after President Prab Mukherjee gave assent on December 31, 2014, senior counsel Fali riman told the apex court bench of Justice Anil R. Dave, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Madan B. Lokur that the government can’t make preparation for implementation of a law (NJAC Act, 2014) which can be passed only now.

Appearing for the Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association which had challenged both the constitution amendment and the NJAC Act, riman told the court that parliament can’t pass a law which is contrary to the provisions of the constitution and all exercises for operatiolising NJAC will fall.

Telling the court that passing a law without supporting constitutiol provisions goes to the root of the matter, riman said that it does not require a hearing by a five-judges bench to decide the matter.

Agreeing that parliament is supreme, riman said: “Of course, parliament is supreme. But it was not made aware in the statement of object and reasons of the NJAC Act and constitutiol amendment as to why government went back on former chief justice M.N. Venkatachaliah Commission’s recommendation for a five-member tiol Judicial Commission with three judicial members.

“You may change the mode of appointment of judges if you uphold the independence of judiciary and preponderance of judicial members,” riman said adding that the government can’t wish away the judgment of nine judges.

Earlier, when senior counsel Dushyant Dave appearing for the Supreme Court Bar Association sought to stump riman by referring to his criticism of collegium system, riman retorted saying that “criticism does not entitle the Executive to assume power” for appointing judges.

Dave - also the president of SCBA - supported the NJAC saying that the court could not stay a constitutiol amendment and it was only in rarest of rare situation that the operation of a statute was put on hold.

Senior counsel T.R. Andhyariju submitted: “We are plunging into an uncharted field. Both the constitution amendment and NJAC Act, 2014 are a law. It has to be brought into operation. Until it is brought into operation, only then it can be examined.”

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi in his intervention once again told the court that challenge to both - the constitutiol amendment and NJAC Act - was pre-mature and academic as it has yet to be operatiolised.

He said that even after NJAC Act is operatiolised it can’t be challenged next day as a cause for challenging its validity has to surface before it is challenged. The court was told this in the course of the hearing a batch of petitions challenging validity of the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, that provides for setting up the tiol Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) and for ebling statute the tiol Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014. The hearing will continue on March 24. (IANS)

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