Terming the Supreme Court striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act as “hasty”, Loksatta founder Dr Jayaprakash Narayan today demanded that an emergency session of Parliament be convened immediately so that it can assert its supremacy in determining the procedure for judicial appointments.
Addressing the media, Dr JP recalled that Parliament had enacted the Constitution 99th Amendment providing for the NJAC to recommend appointments and transfers in higher judiciary as the Supreme Court by judicial pronouncements had usurped the power to recommend appointments through a Collegium of Judges.
The Foundation for Democratic Reforms (FDR) and Lok Satta have for long argued that appointment of judges by collegiums of judges is antithetical to democracy and accountability. At the instance of the FDR/Lok Satta, three eminent jurists of unimpeachable integrity (Justice MN Venkatachaliah and (late) Justice JS Verma, both former Chief Justices of India, and (late) Justice VR Krishna Iyer, former Judge of Supreme Court) had studied the system and recommended constitution of a National Judicial Commission (NJC) for recommending judicial appointments. The NJAC proposed by the Government is on the lines of the NJC recommended by the three jurists.
Fearing the repercussions of quashing the 99th Amendment, Dr JP in a September 15 letter to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and all MPs had stated that if the 99th amendment was quashed by the court, it will be a fit case for Parliament to stand its ground and assert its supremacy in determining the procedure for judicial appointments. He stated that there are three compelling reasons why judicial appointments cannot be the sole preserve of the judiciary.
Dr JP said the Supreme Court verdict also underlined the need to cleanse politics and not to revile and reject it. “We all love to hate politicians. But the answer to dirty politics is not divine institutions; it lies in political reform. Political parties abusing and opposing each other recklessly has led to a culture of revulsion of politics. This climate has led to today’s SC verdict.” (NSS)