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NJAC: The Waiting Game!

Published on Thu, Apr 23,2015 | 22:38, Updated at Thu, Apr 23 at 22:38Source : 

By: Ashmit Kumar, CNBC TV18

The Government claims that with the notification of the NJAC Act, the Collegium had been relegated to the annals of history. But the NJAC itself is under judicial scrutiny after a series of petitions challenged its constitutional validity. Hence the Supreme Court today posed the question – who decides the fate of potential appointees, to HCs and SC, during the pendency of the PILs?

The Attorney General - Mukul Rohatgi, walking a thin line, has assured the apex court that that the NJAC will stop short of taking a call on fresh appointments to the judiciary. As per the submissions of the Attorney General, the Government has bound itself to an undertaking that proposals by NJAC for making fresh appointments, will be brought to the 5-judge constitutional bench for vetting.  

The govt also assured the Justice Khehar led bench, that the appointments proposed by the “erstwhile” collegium, of which Justice Khehar was a part, have been cleared by the Government, baring a few exceptions. These exceptions, the AG clarified, were red flagged prior to the notification of the NJAC Act.  

However, the Attorney General has also clarified that NJAC will be allowed to re-appoint existing Additional High Court judges whose tenures are due to end during the hearing of the PILs.  

This interim arrangement proposed by the government has been accepted by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court’s approval has allowed the government to breathe easy, with the bench, at one point, also toying with the idea of an interim stay on the NJAC Act.  

Meanwhile, the Government also laid out a roadmap for constituting the NJAC. The Government, the AG submitted, was likely to move fast with the appointment of two “eminent persons” that would help realize the magic figure of six, for constituting the NJAC. The other four members would include the CJI, two senior-most SC judges and the Law Minister. The AG has offered a tentative deadline of May 11 for completing the exercise.  

The apex court will now begin hearing the PILs on April 27 (Monday). Justice Khehar has expressed his keenness in concluding the arguments before the court breaks for vacation. Jutsice Khehar has hinted at allowing both sides five days each to make their case.


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