Controversial judge issue dominates NJAC hearings

Controversial judge issue dominates NJAC hearings

The controversy surrounding the performance of a former Supreme Court judge refuses to die down as the Centre on Friday produced copies of judgments authored by him before a Constitution bench, adjudicating the legal validity of the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi tried to set the record straight in view of a file handed over to him on Thursday by the bench, showing compilation of the records collected by the Registrar General purportedly indicating the said judge has been part of over 100 judgments.

“My information is correct. This is all that he has written,” Rohatgi said, showing to the bench presided by Justice J S Khehar, a bunch of papers containing orders and judgments written by the former SC judge, who later on was appointed to the National Human Rights Commission.

Out of 309 judgments that he was quoted to have written, there are only a few by him in fact. The fact was that he mostly sat with the most prolific judges in the bench, who had authored those judgments, he added.

Rohatgi said the former SC judge had signed 309 judgements of which he had authored seven while two were cuncurrent verdicts during his tenure of three years, six months and 20 days.

“Your Lordships may have a look and then throw it,” Rohatgi said, handing over the bunch of papers.

The bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh K Goel, however, tried to defend the judge by pointing out, “May be, he started heading the bench here late.”

“That could be no reason, what about his tenure of over 10 years in various High Courts,” the AG asked, adding there were hundreds of judgments reserved by him but not delivered.

During the hearing, the bench denied having received any letter on the part of judge, explaining his participation in delivery of judgments.

The AG had earlier questioned the collegium system of appointment of judges citing the said judge's case as an instance of “bad appointment”.

During the day-long hearing, the bench heard arguments from senior advocates F S Nariman and Anil Divan, opposing any role of the executives in the appointment of judges as proposed in the NJAC Act.

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