The Collegium system of judicial appointments is here to stay. The Supreme Court today declared the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), and the Constitutional amendments involved, to be in violation of the Constitution of India.
Justice Khehar began the pronouncement by thanking all the counsels who appeared in the case.The judge noted that that there were three components in the judgment – recusal, reference to a larger Bench, and the decision itself.
Dismissing the claim for reference, the judge went on to say that the 99th Constitutional Amendment was struck down, and that the Collegium system as it existed prior to the enactment of the Constitution (Ninty-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 will be operative.
It was a majority decision (4:1) with Chelameswar J. delivering the sole dissenting opinion. The pronouncement itself lasted for about 10 minutes in an overcrowded court room number 4.
The Court also said that it would like to improve the collegium system, and hearings on the same would begin on November 3 this year.
The common order of the court, signed by all the five judges reads, as follows:
- The prayer for reference to a larger Bench, and for reconsideration of the Second and Third Judges cases [(1993) 4 SCC 441, and (1998) 7 SCC 739, respectively], is rejected.
- The Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 is declared unconstitutional and void.
- The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014, is declared unconstitutional and void.
- The system of appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court, and Chief Justices and Judges to the High Courts; and transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts from one High Court, to another, as existing prior to the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 (called the “collegium system”), is declared to be operative.
- To consider introduction of appropriate measures, if any, for an improved working of the “collegium system”, list on 3.11.2015
The NJAC hearings involved a slew of petitioners, with the Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association being the lead petitioner. The central government was represented by three law officers – Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar and ASG PS Narasimha.
Most of the senior members for the Bar had argued in the case – a majority of them led by Fali S Nariman seeking the quashing of the Commission.
Read our comprehensive report on the NJAC hearings before the Supreme Court.
(Full text of the judgment below)
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