SC to hear PILs against new judge appointment system on Monday

The Supreme Court today admitted two public litigation petitions challenging the 121st amendment to the Constitution that scraps the collegium system for appointment of judges to the Supreme and high courts.

In an unusual but obviously understandable show of solidarity, there was little opposition in either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha to the bill, which gives more powers to the executive to appoint the country's top judges.

The apex court set the hearing for Monday after two pleas were filed challenging the constitutionality of the amendment, which replaces the collegium system for the appointment of judges with a panel that will include members of the government.

The petitioner, senior counsel Bishwajit Bhattacharyya, in his PIL said that both the National Judicial Appointment Commission and the constitutional amendment paving way for it (NJAC) were in violation of the basic structure of the Constitution, which was absolute and unalterable.

Seeking the quashing of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 and the Constitution (One Hundred And Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014, the PIL sought declaration that they are "arbitrary, unconstitutional, and deface/defile/damage basic structure/feature of India's constitution."

Earlier this month, Parliamentary approval was accorded to two bills seeking to end the collegium system for appointment of judges (See: Parliament clears way for Judicial Appointments Commission)

The Constitution (99th Amendment) Bill seeks to put the proposed judicial appointment commission and its entire composition in the constitution, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, which lays down the procedure to be followed by the proposed body for appointment of Supreme Court judges and transfer and appointment of chief justices and other judges of the high courts.