New Delhi: The Supreme Court dismissed the review petition challenging the striking down of a Constitutional Amendment that sought to give the executive a say in the appointment of top judges on grounds of delay and lack of merit.
“There is delay of 470 days in filing the present review petition, for which no satisfactory explanation has been offered. The review petition is liable to be dismissed on ground of delay alone. We do not find merit in the same," a Constitution bench held on 27 November.
On 16 October 2015, in a 4-1 majority verdict, the Supreme Court held that both the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, were unconstitutional as it would undermine the independence of the judiciary.
Four judges had ruled in the majority, while justice Chelameswar was of the opinion that the Constitutional Amendment was valid.
The majority said the two laws affect the independence of the judiciary, and judicial appointments, among other things, should be protected from executive control.
The government had sought to replace the existing system, which critics said was opaque, with a six-member NJAC comprising the Chief Justice of India (CJI), two senior-most Supreme Court judges, the law minister and two eminent persons. The eminent persons would be chosen by a selection committee including the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition.
In its 1,024-page verdict, the apex court said: “It is to be assumed that the independence and integrity of the judiciary is of the ‘highest importance’ not only to the judges but to the citizens seeking resort from a court of law against the high-handed and illegal exercise of power by the executive."