The Union Government on 13 April 2015 notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 and the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014.
The NJAC Act and 99th Amendment Act were notified in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Act.
With this, the existing Collegium system of appointing judges of higher judiciary, viz., Supreme Court and High Courts comes to an end.
Main Features of the NJAC Act, 2014
• It gives NJAC a Constitutional status for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
• It also gives the executive an equal role in the appointment of judges to the highest judiciary, as a constitutional body.
• It specifies amendments to Articles 124 (2) and 217 (1) that deals with the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts, respectively.
• Now the judges in the Supreme Court and the High Courts will be appointed by the President in consultation with the NJAC.
• Once the NJAC is in place then Union government has to intimate NJAC within 30 day about the vacancies in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. Vacancies to come up within the next six months should also be intimated to the commission in advance.
Composition of NJAC
The NJAC will have the Chief Justice of India as Chairperson and two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court as members, apart from the Union Law Minister and two eminent personalities, one of whom would be nominated from among the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, minorities, the Other Backward Classes or women.
The two eminent persons will be nominated by a committee of the Prime Minister of India, the Chief Justice of India, and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of the People, or if there is no Leader of the Opposition, then the Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in the House of the People.
The NJAC will frame its own regulations.
The notification to National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 came few days after the Supreme Court referred the Act to the Constitutional bench on a basis of a batch of petitions that challenged the constitutionality of the Act. The Constitution bench of the apex court will hear the plea on 15 April 2015.
However, the notification was made possible by the Supreme Court itself which on 7 April 2015 refused to pass a stay order on the law coming into force while referring the petition to the Constitution bench.
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.
The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014 enacted as the Constitution (Ninety Ninth Amendment) Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 were published in Gazette of India on 31 December 2014.
When: 13 April 2015