'Quashing NJAC would not revive collegium'

Apex court terms govt's arguments 'illogical'

'Quashing NJAC would not revive collegium'

The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that even if the National Judicial Appointment Act is quashed, the collegium system of appointment of judges in top judiciary would not get revived.

 Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Union government contended before a five-judge constitution bench presided over by Justice J S Khehar that the apex court’s decision declaring the NJAC Act as bad in law would amount to legislating which was the exclusive domain of Parliament.

The submission came in response to the court’s query whether quashing the law will  revive the previous position – the original Article 124 of the Constitution and the interpretation given to it by a nine-judge bench.

Kumar said that Parliament may declare it as “void” if the apex court ruled that quashing the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) would revive the collegium.

The court, however, wondered that the effect of his argument would be that an original provision would stand repealed although amendment  was quashed, which in a way nullified the impact of the order.

But Kumar asserted the Constitution at the moment stood amended and there was a statute in place for setting up the NJAC.

“There will be a hiatus if the bench quashed the NJAC and  Parliament will need to step in to frame another law but collegium will not return automatically,” he said.

The bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Jospeh and Adarsh K Goel, however, said that the arguments appeared “illogical”.

 The court also said that the situation would irreversible vis-a-vis independence of judiciary if the Act was found to be violating basic structure after allowing it to function for some time. The arguments in a batch of PILs challenging legal validity of the NJAC Act would continue on Tuesday.
 

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