A Three Judges Bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Anil Dave, Justice Chelameswar and Justice Sikri dismissed a batch of PILs challenging the 121st Constitutional amendment and National Judicial Commission Bill 2014 which provides for a new mechanism for appointment of Judges in higher Judiciary and for scrapping the collegium system prevalent for the past two decades. The Court held that the petitions are premature since the constitutional amendment bill is yet to be sent to states for ratification after which the President's assent would come.
The PILs have been filed by former Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharya, advocates R. K. Kapoor and Manohar Lal Sharma and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association [http://www.livelaw.in/challenge-121st-constitutional-amendment-scrapping-collegium-system-apex-court-agrees-hear-4-pils-august-25th/]. Senior Advocate Fali Nariman who appeared for the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association argued that the question whether a bill violating basic structure of the Constitution could be challenged at this stage be referred to the Constitution Bench. But the Supreme Court dismissed the plea.
The Supreme Court Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association in their petition contended that “as a matter of historical record it must be added that almost simultaneously with the introduction and passage of the Constitution (One Hundred Twenty First Amendment) Bill No. 97C of 2014, in the Lok Sabha there was also introduced (in the Lok Sabha) on 11th August, 2014 the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill No. 96 of 2014: (as a matter of fact the legislative Bill No.96 of 2014 was introduced even prior to the Constitution 121st Amendment Bill No. 97C of 2014). The Legislative Bill was got passed in both Houses of Parliament by a voice vote taken even at a time when the provisions of Article 124(2) as originally enacted were in force (and even today continue to be in force) making the introduction, consideration and passing of the legislative Bill (the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill No.96 of 2014) an exercise in futility and a nullity since with Article 124(2) as originally enacted in the Constitution remaining intact, there could be no introduction of or passing by Parliament of the legislative Bill known as the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2014”
It is also contended that “the amending power under Article 368 of the Constitution is subject to the substantive limitations in that the basic structure cannot be altered or the basic features of the constitution destroyed. This imposes a fetter on the competence of Parliament to amend the Constitution; and any amendment made in disregard of this limitation (it has been authoritatively held) goes beyond the amending power (e.g. Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others: 1992 (Supp) 2 SCC 651 at page 692-693 paras 63 to 65). It has been authoritatively held by this Hon’ble Court (in a Series of judgments) that the independence of the Judiciary is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and hence unamendable”
The petition is filed on the following main grounds.