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JUDICIARY - LEGISLATURE TUSSLE

HISTORIC JUDGEMENT

The Supreme Court ,in a historic judgment squashed the NJAC,(National Judicial
Appointments Commission ,ruling that the primacy of the judiciary in Judges' appointments was
enshrined in the basic structure of the Constitution. The verdict sent shock waves among the
Government machinery, as it declared unconstitutional an amendment passed by the parliament
to create NJAC Act which had contemplated a significant role for the executive in appointing
judges in the higher judiciary. Though the NJAC act was unanimously passed by both houses of
Parliament, a five judges bench ruled with a 4:1 majority that judges' appointment shall continue
to be made by the Collegium system in which Chief Justice of India will call the shots. The 20
year old Collegium system prescribes appointments of judges by a panel comprising five judges
of the Supreme Court and High Courts with the power to confirm appointment without having a
sanction from the government.
WHAT IS NJAC?
The Parliament had passed the NJAC Act unanimously as the 99th Constitutional Amendment
,thereby diluting the authority vested with the judges panel to select new judges ,proposed that
all appointments be done by a six member body, headed by the CJI, and including two senior
most SC judges, the Union Law Minister and two 'eminent persons ',hand- picked by another
committee comprising of PM, CJI, and the leader of the largest Opposition party in the Lok
Sabha. However, the Supreme Court with the stroke of a pen, held that the Constitutional
amendment passed by the parliament , "ultra vires", un-constitutional and hence to be annulled .
REACTION OF GOVERNMENT
The Government reacted sharply to the ruling and called it "a setback for Parliamentary
democracy and sovereignty ".Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was the earlier Law
Minister when the Amendment was passed in Parliament said, the Government would decide
further strategy after studying the verdict in detail and holding all party consultations as the
amendment was supported by 26 parties -all national and prominent regional parties. It is worthy
here, to note that the eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani had dissented and staged a walkout in the
Rajya Sabha, when the amendment was brought in. Present Law Minister D V Sadananda
Gowda, responded in a more cautious way saying ," We are surprised by the SC verdict. It is
premature to comment because I have not seen the full text of the verdict."Attorney General
Mukul Rohatgi who argued the case on behalf of government, called it a 'flawed ' verdict and

said the bench over ruled the 'will of the people'. He added the Parliament may take a call if it
intends to bring a new law once again. He opined that a review petition may not be viable.
The verdict has brought the most important pillars of Democracy in to direct confrontation. By
striking down the NJAC as unconstitutional ,the Supreme Court has basically asserted the
independence of the judiciary. The demand for the NJAC began with the observation that the
standing of the judiciary has been reduced in the eyes of the public by pervasive inefficiency and
embarrassing instances of corruption, well debated by the editorials of India Express. But it is
also evident that such sensitive higher judicial , if controlled by politicians and so called 'eminent
persons' can also spell trouble if allowed to degenerate into political appointments.
CONCLUSION
A direct confrontation between the two prominent pillars ,of the world's biggest Democracy ,is
deplorable and will showcase India in a poor light. As a matured and seasoned democracy, we
must resolve this contagious issue in an amicable manner exhibiting jurisprudence and acumen
in good governance. All right minded politicians, bureaucrats and senior judges should put their
sagacious heads together and call a ceasefire before it creates cracks in our stable democracy.