National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill (NJAC), 2014


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National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill 2014

The issue of appointing a National Judicial Appointment Commission has been in debates recently. This was due to the fact that certain sections are of the opinion that such an arrangement would impede against the principle of separation of power and judicial independence, which constitute a part of the Basic Principles of Indian Constitution.

However, the Bill was still passed by the Parliament. The Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 11, 2014, along with the Constitutional (121 Amendment) Bill, 2014. The Bill provides for the procedure to be followed by the NJAC, for recommending persons for the appointment as Chief Justice of India and other Judges of the Supreme Court, and Chief Justice and other Judges of the High Court.

Provisions of the Bill

  • The Bill provides that whenever a vacancy arises in the Supreme Court, or the High Court, the Central Government will make a reference to the National Judicial Appointment Bill. Existing vacancies will be notified to the NJAC within thirty days of the Act entering into force.
  • When a vacancy arises due to the completion of term, a reference will be made to the NJAC, six months in advance.
  • For vacancies due to death or resignation, a reference must be made to the NJAC within thirty days of its occurrence.

Procedure for the Selection and Appointment of the Judges

For Supreme Court

  • For the purpose of the appointment of the Chief Justice of India, the NJAC would recommend the name of the senior most judge of the Supreme Court for the appointment as the Chief Justice of India. However, the recommendation would be made on the condition that such a person is considered fit to hold the office.
  • For other judges of the Supreme Court, the NJAC would recommend the names of the persons on the basis of ability, merit and other criteria, specified under the regulations.
  • An interesting feature of the Bill is the Veto power given to the NJAC. According to this veto power, NJAC shall not recommend a person for appointment if any two of its members do not agree to such recommendation.

For High Court

  • Similarly, for the appointment of the Chief Justice of the High Courts, the NJAC is to recommend the name of the Judge of a High Court to be the Chief Justice of a High Court, on the basis of seniority across the High Court judges. However, the Commission would also keep in mind the ability, merit and other criteria as specified in the regulations.
  • for the appointment of the other High Court Judges, the NJAC would seek nominations from the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court for the appointment of the High Court judges. The Commission would then nominate the names for the appointment of the High Judges and forward such list to the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court, to take his/her views.
  • In such consultation, the Chief Justice is required to consult the two senior most judges of the High Court concerned and advocates as specified in the regulations.
  • The NJAC is also obliged to take the views of the Governor and the Chief Minister of the State before making final recommendations.
  • Like in the case of appointment to the Supreme Court, here, also, the NJAC shall not recommend a person for appointment if any two members of the Commission do not agree to such recommendation.

 Transfer of Judges

  •  In case of transfer of judges of High Court, the NJAC will make recommendations for such transfers to the Chief Justice and other judges of the High court. The procedure for such transfer would be as specified in the regulations.
  • The President of India may require the NJAC to reconsider the recommendation made by the latter. However, if the NJAC makes a unanimous recommendation, after reconsideration, the President shall be bound to abide by the recommendation.

Courtesy: PSR India

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