SC says NJAC unconstitutional, upholds collegium

New Delhi, Oct 16 (IANS) In a jolt to the government, the Supreme Court on Friday struck down the constitution’s 99th amendment and the NJAC Act as unconstitutional, restoring the collegium system for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

In a “collective order”, the constitution bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the 99th amendment and the NJAC Act were unconstitutional and void.

“The constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 is declared unconstitutional and void” and “The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014, is declared unconstitutional and void”, the court said.

The constitution amendment and the NJAC Act were brought to replace the 1993 collegium system for the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and high courts.

“The system of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court, and chief justices and judges to the high courts; and transfer of chief justices and judges of high courts from one high court, to another, as existing prior to the constitution (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 (called Collegium System), is declared to be operative,” the court order said.

The court rejected the prayer by the government for referring the matter to a larger bench for reconsideration of second judges (1993) and the third judges (1998) that had put in place the collegium system for the appointment of judges.

After pronouncing the order, the court sought suggestions from the senior counsel who had appeared in the matter and bar for improved and transparent functioning of the collegium system.

Hearing for the same will take place on November 3.

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