The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to give a specific date to hear a plea seeking review of its 2015 verdict striking down the NJAC Act and another related law, which had led to the revival of the collegium system for appointment of judges, saying there was no hurry.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said several other important cases were pending and it would see when this matter can be accommodated. “Others are waiting, there are more important cases. You leave at that. You have made your submissions. We will see,” the bench observed.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act 2014 would have accorded a major role to the executive in appointing judges to the higher judiciary. The NJAC was perceived by some in the legal fraternity as an attempt to interfere with the independence of the judiciary. The matter was mentioned by advocate Mathews J Nedumpara seeking urgent listing of the plea filed by National Lawyers Campaign for Judicial Transparency and Reforms for reconsideration of the verdict delivered by a five-judge constitution bench.
The review plea has said that 2015 judgement of the top court was “unconstitutional and void”.
During the hearing, Nedumpara said the issue of judges’ appointment was very relevant today and there was a dire need to have a proper system in place. When the NJAC case was being heard, the matter was “hijacked” by a few selective lawyers, he alleged and said that this matter should be listed for hearing.
The bench took objection to the lawyer’s submissions in a loud tone and warned him saying,”don’t raise your voice. Nobody needs to raise their voice. Please lower your pitch. You are making a legal point”. The lawyer then apologised and said he was sorry for raising his voice. He also mentioned another plea filed by him in which he has raised the issue of the video recording of the proceedings in the apex court.
To this, the bench said, “You leave at that, you have made your submissions. We will see”. The apex court had on October 16, 2015, struck down the NJAC Act, 2014 to replace the 22-year-old collegium system of judges appointing judges. While four of the five judges of the constitution bench had held as unconstitutional and void both the NJAC Act and the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act 2014, Justice J Chelameswar had upheld the validity of the constitution amendment law.
“The system of appointment of Judges to the Supreme Court and Chief Justices and Judges to the High Courts, and transfer of Chief Justices and Judges of High Courts from one High Court to another, as existing prior to the Constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 (called the “collegium system”), is declared to be operative,” the apex court had then said.