Chief Justice of India H L Dattu has re-constituted the five-judge bench to hear a batch of petitions challenging validity of the constitutional amendment and National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). The NJAC has to replace the collegium system of appointing judges to the higher judiciary, giving executive greater say in these appointments.
The development comes a day after Justice Anil R Dave, who headed the Constitution Bench, decided not to hear the plea matter a petitioners raised an objection that the judge was now an ex-officio member of the NJAC owing to his seniority. The new bench is likely to be headed by Justice J S Khehar and it would start hearing the matter from April 21.
The CJI has also set up a three-judge bench to hear afresh the anticipatory bail plea of Teesta Setalvad and her husband in the case of alleged embezzlement of funds for a museum at Ahmedabad’s Gulbarg Society that was devastated in the 2002 riots.
Also, a day after a split verdict was delivered by two judges over the legality of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa’s appeal in Karnataka High Court in a corruption case, the CJI set up a three-judge bench to adjudge the issue. In HC, Jayalalithaa has challenged her conviction and four-year jail term in a case of disproportionate assets.
In this case, the judges had failed to reconcile their views on whether appearance of a special public prosecutor, who was appointed to conduct trial, was also authorised to argue in the appeal at the High Court. While one judge said that prosecutor’s continuation had vitiated the appeal and it required to be heard afresh, the other judge accorded legal sanctity to the proceedings.
The three-judge bench would begin hearing in the two cases from April 21.