The Supreme Court today refused to intervene "at this stage" on the issue of constitutional validity of the amendment by which collegium system for appointment of judges in higher judiciary was scrapped and a new mechanism under National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) was proposed to be put in place.
Declining to entertain a batch of petitions challenging the 121st constitutional amendment and the NJAC bill, a three- judge bench headed by Justice A R Dave said the PILs are "premature" and allowed the petitioner to approach the court at a later stage.
"We are of the view that the petitions are premature. It's open for the petitioners to approach the court at later stage on the same ground," the bench also comprising justices J Chelameswar and A K Sikri said.
The bench, which had especially assembled to hear the petitions against the NJAC bill, gave a patient hearing for one-and-a-half hour but refused to interfere at this stage regarding the bill.
Four PILs had been filed in the apex court for declaring the NJAC move as unconstitutional, days after Parliament passed two bills to scrap the collegium system for appointments in higher judiciary and to provide a new mechanism in its place.
The PILs had been filed by former Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharya, advocates R K Kapoor and Manohar Lal Sharma and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association.
The lawyers had submitted that the 121st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the NJAC Bill, 2014, passed by Parliament were unconstitutional as they violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
"The Constitution itself recognises a clear demarcation separating the judiciary from the executive under Article 50 of the Constitution which is the underlying strength for a sound judicial system.
"It would be relevant to point out here that Article 50 of the Directive Principles of the State Policy under the Constitution is not only applicable to the lower judiciary but is also applicable to the higher judiciary as the doctrine of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary were basic immutable features of the Constitution," Kapoor had submitted.
Bhattacharya had contended that shifting of power of the Chief Justice of India, to take a decision in every appointment of Supreme Court and high court judges and in every transfer of judges from one high court to another, "would be destructive of the independence of the judiciary and the doctrine of separation of power, both basic features of India’s Constitution."
Rajya Sabha had on August 14 approved with overwhelming majority the 121st Constitution Amendment Bill along with the NJAC bill, a day after Lok Sabha gave its nod to the measures.
Lok Sabha had passed the bill with a crucial amendment suggested by opposition Congress that was accepted by the government.
SC Not to Intervene on Judicial Appointments Bill
New Delhi | Aug 25, 2014
Both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha approved the 121st Constitution Amendment Bill along with the National Judicial Appointment Commission bill.
While disposing of the petition, the Hon'ble Supreme court gave the following interim verdict at its hearing today.
x x x
" We are of the view that the petitions are premature. It's open for the petitioners to approach the court at later stage on the same ground,"
x x x
Will the petitioners agitate the matter again after Bills are enacted ?
Both the Judiciary and the Executive would be caught in vicious circle of cause and effect.
While SC opposes Executive interference in selection of top judiciary,the Executive feels uncomfortable with judicial over-reach. However, both firmly believe in the "Doctrine of Separation of Power".
A K SAXENA (A retd civil servant)