New Delhi: In a new turn of events related to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), chief justice of India (CJI) H.L. Dattu has refused to be part of the three-member panel that’s supposed to select two eminent persons to the NJAC till the constitutional bench of the apex court decides on its validity.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi on Monday told the five-judge constitutional bench headed by J.S. Khehar that Dattu has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi refusing to participate in the selection panel till the bench decides.

The government on 13 April notified the NJAC Act and a related constitutional amendment. The NJAC is a six-member commission comprising the CJI, two seniormost judges of the apex court, the law minister and two eminent persons; it replaces the collegium system of appointing judges in higher courts.

The two eminent persons on NJAC must be selected by a three-member committee comprising the CJI, prime minister and the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha or the leader of the largest opposition party in the house.

Meanwhile, the five-judge bench proceeded to hear the case in detail and said it would address the issue when the need arises.

On NJAC’s fate, Rohatgi said it is a constitutional stalemate. “It can’t be constituted properly now. However, Article 124A provides that no vacancy or defect in the constitution of the commission (NJAC) can invalidate it technically. But it is an unhealthy precedent. Several arguments have been given by lawyers, pros and cons raised. It’s a call the court will now take after 10 days," Rohatgi said.

The court will continue hearing arguments from the petitioners, led by the Supreme Court Advocates-On-Record Association, represented by senior lawyer Fali S. Nariman, on Tuesday.

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