The Supreme Court will hear a bunch of petitions on Monday, including the one drafted by noted jurist Fali S Nariman, challenging the 121st constitutional amendment that would pave the way for the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to replace the 21-year-old collegium system to appoint judges.
A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice R M Lodha told a group of advocates who sought urgent hearing in their respective petitions that the matter would come up for hearing on August 25.
More than four PILs have been filed in the apex court seeking its direction to declare the NJAC as unconstitutional just days after Parliament passed two bills.
The PILs have been filed by former Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharya, advocates R K Kapoor, Manohar Lal Sharma and advocates R Krishnamurthy and N Rajaraman. The latest one drafted by Nariman has been filed by Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA).
The SCAORA contended that the move was in contravention of the basic structure of the Constitution and should be declared invalid and void.
Among other objections, it claimed that the six-member NJAC “takes away the primacy of the collective opinion of the Chief Justice of India and the two senior most judges of the Supreme Court, next to the Chief Justice of India (ie) even if all three senior most judges collectively recommend an appointee, the appointment is liable to be vetoed by the other three members — one of whom is part of the executive (Minister in government) and the other two “eminent persons” not selected unanimously but amongst the Prime Minister, CJI and leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha.”
The same objection has been raised by other petitioners as well. Rajya Sabha had on August 14 approved with an overwhelming majority the 121st Constitution Amendment Bill along with the NJAC Bill, a day after the Lok Sabha gave its nod to the measures.
The Lok Sabha had passed the bill with a crucial amendment suggested by the opposition Congress that was accepted by the government.