Updated: October 21, 2015 7:57:10 am
Days after the Supreme Court quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), Chief Justice of India H L Dattu on Tuesday ruled out any confrontation with the government and said the verdict would not affect the relationship between the judiciary and the executive.
“We have always had the best of relationships. So far, I have never had any problem with the government. I am sure this judgment will have no impact (on the relationship). I have always said that they are all mature people. We do our work and they do theirs. They know how to accept a judgment,” the CJI told The Indian Express.
Underlining that he too is bound by the Constitution of India, Justice Dattu said he is mindful of the vacancies in the apex court and 24 high courts. “I will do my best to fill these vacancies,” he said, adding, “I am also looking forward to what the Constitution Bench has to say on November 3.”
On November 3, a five-judge Constitution Bench has to consider suggestions on improving the Collegium system, and has invited submissions from the government and other stakeholders. The Constitution Bench chose to take this route as it quashed the NJAC and ordered revival of the Collegium system.
The apex court’s decision was seen as a setback for the government, which had argued aggressively before the Bench in favour of the NJAC. But the CJI expressed confidence on Tuesday that the government would not make a mistake in complying with the Supreme Court ruling.
On Friday, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional an amendment to validate the NJAC Act passed by both Houses of Parliament, which had contemplated a significant role for the executive in appointing judges in the higher judiciary. Ruling that the primacy of the judiciary in judges’ appointments was embedded in the basic structure of the Constitution, it said these appointments will continue to be made by the Collegium system in which the CJI will have “the last word”.
Since then, the CJI, after consulting the Collegium comprising two senior-most judges, has moved ahead to clear the names of some additional judges in six high courts for appointment as permanent judges.
The government has offered no resistance. The files of 21 additional judges of various high courts, cleared by the Collegium, are set to be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee in Kolkata on Wednesday.
There are indications that the Registrars of these high courts may be asked to send their representatives to Kolkata to pick up the warrants of appointments in order to save time, since some of the judges are set to retire in the next few days.
These additional judges could not be made permanent earlier owing to pendency of the NJAC case in court.
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