SC declared National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) unconstitutional

Oct 16, 2015 12:47 IST

Supreme CourtThe five-judge Constitutional Bench of Supreme Court (SC) in a collective order on 16 October 2015 ruled that 99th Constitutional Amendment Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 is unconstitutional and void.

It also upheld the Collegium system that existed before the NJAC as operative. Collegium System was established by the SC in 1993 for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

Moreover, the apex court rejected the plea of the Union Government that the petition challenging NJAC Act be referred to a larger Bench in light of the two 'Judges Cases' of 1993 and 1998 and scheduling a hearing on November 3 to improve the Collegium system.

Although the NJAC Act was upheld by Justice J Chelameswar but he recused himself from passing any judgment on the NJAC statute as the majority of four had already held it unconstitutional.

The five-judge bench comprised of Justices JS Khehar, J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and AK Goel.

Background

The Union Government on 13 April 2015 notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 and the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014. It was designed to replace the existing Collegium system of appointing judges of higher judiciary, viz., Supreme Court and High Courts.

The NJAC Bill and the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014 were passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha on 13 August 2014 and Rajya Sabha on 14 August 2014 respectively. Subsequently these Bills were ratified by the required number of State legislatures before getting the President’s assent on 31 December 2014.

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