15 April, New Delhi
A Constitution bench of Supreme Court on Wednesday could not begin the hearing to examine the validity of the law replacing the collegium system of appointment of judges as the judge heading it recused from the case following objection from petitioners who claimed conflict of interest.
“The constitutional amendment in the NJAC act has been duly notified by the Government. A constitutional Bench was construed today to hear the arguments against the NJAC and there were certain objections raised by a few counsels with respect to constitution of the bench. The constitution bench after briefly hearing the arguments said that they would construe a fresh bench and that these matters would be heard in the due course of time,” senior Advocate Aman Sinha said.
Justice A.R. Dave, who was heading the five-judge Constitution bench, withdrew from the case after the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) and other petitioners said that since he had become a member of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) under the new law, it would not be proper for him to hear the matter.
On April 7, a three-judge bench of the apex court had referred the matter to a five-judge Constitution Bench, the batch of petitions challenging the validity of NJAC Act to replace the two-decade-old Collegium System.
Under the old Collegium System, five top judges of the apex court used to recommend the transfer and elevation of judges to the Supreme Court and the 24 High Courts.
The NJAC was signed into an Act by President Pranab Mukherjee on December 31, 2014.
According to the new act, two eminent persons will be nominated to the NJAC as members by the committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of India and the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha or the leader of single largest Opposition party.
The eminent persons will be nominated for a period of three years and will not be eligible for renomination.The NJAC will be headed by the Chief Justice of India.