New Delhi: Government today brought into force a controversial law to appoint members to the higher judiciary, two days before a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court hears a clutch of petitions challenging the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act.
The notification bringing into effect from today the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act along with a Constitutional Amendment Act (99th Amendment Act) to give constitutional status to the new body was issued by Department of Justice in the Law Ministry.
A bunch of petitions moved by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association ( SCAORA), Bar Association of India and some individual lawyers challenging NJAC and the Constitition amendment will come up for hearing before the Constitution Bench on Wednesday.
Functionaries in the Law Ministry said with the notification, technically the collegium system has come to an end. But, at the same time, they said the new body may take some time to come into into being.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will now have to call Chief Justice of India H L Dattu and Congress’ Mallikarjun Kharge, the leader of single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha, to nominate two eminent persons to the NJAC.
The NJAC will have to ratify the rules governing its functioning in the first meetings before they are notified. The draft rules are ready with the government.
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.
The government can return the recommendation to the collegium under this system. But it has to accept the recommendation if it is reiterated by the collegium.
The collegium system had come under fire for lacking transparency by politicians and some eminent jurists, who contended that judges appointing judges without any say of the Executive has led to complaints of nepotisim and favouritism.
But successive CJIs have defended the system saying it has stood the test of time and was working without any hitches.
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