The Supreme Court of India struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) that had been set up by a unanimous decision by the Parliament.
Instead of NJAC, the court ordered the revival of the two-decade-old collegium system where ‘judges select judges’.
Supreme Court’s this judgment rebuffed Parliament’s decision to bring transparency in appointment of judges. This has also set the stage for a confrontation between the executive and the judiciary.
The judgment was given by a five-judge bench, by a 4-1 majority. The bench declared the 99th constitutional amendment and the consequent legislation NJAC Act as unconstitutional.
It was done on the ground that the NJAC had the law minister and two eminent persons as members who could join hands to reject the proposals of the judiciary, represented by the Chief Justice of India and two seniormost SC judges. Under the NJAC, any two members can veto a proposal.
The court held that the constitutional amendment and NJAC was a sure recipe for political meddling and executive interference in judicial independence, which was part of the inviolable basic structure of the Constitution.
However, each judge acknowledged that all was not well with the collegium system. The bench asked the government and petitioners to suggest in writing how to improve the system.