Breaking ; Government notifies NJAC Act and 99th Constitution Amendment with immediate effect; question of maintainability of Writ Petitions rendered redundant[Updated]

Breaking ; Government notifies NJAC Act and 99th Constitution Amendment with immediate effect; question of maintainability of Writ Petitions rendered redundant[Updated]

In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, the Central Government has notified the NJAC Act to come into force with immediate effect.

As per the PIB release "The Government today notified the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 and the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014 for bringing in a change in the existing system for appointment of Judges in Supreme Court and High Courts.

Two Bills titled 'The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014' and 'The National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014' were passed unanimously by the Lok Sabha on 13.08.2014 and Rajya Sabha on 14.08.2014 respectively. Subsequently these Bills were ratified by the required number of State legislatures before getting the President’s assent. The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty First Amendment) Bill, 2014 enacted as the Constitution (Ninety Ninth Amendment) Act and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 were published in Gazette of India on 31st December 2014.

Both the Acts were to come into force on such date as the Central Government would notify them in the Official Gazette.

Accordingly, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, the Central Government appoints the 13th day of April, 2015, as the date on which the said Act shall come into force.

Further, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 1 of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 (40 of 2014), the Central Government appoints the 13th day of April, 2015, as the date on which the provisions of the said Act shall come into force". 

Last week, a three Judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice A.R. Dave, Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice M.B. Lokur referred to a larger bench, a batch of Writ petitions challenging the Constitutional validity of the NJAC Act. The Supreme Court had said that it would proceed on the merits of the matter only after deciding whether the Petitions were maintainable or not. This was because the law was not notified yet. However, with this surprise notification, the question of maintainability is now redundant.

Eight fresh Petitions, challenging the law, were filed earlier this year. The Petitioners were Supreme Court Advocates on record Association (SCAORA), R.K. Kapoor, Bhim Singh, Bishwajit Bhattacharya, Centre for PIL, Manohar Lal Sharma, Change India, Mathes J. Nedumpara and Bar Association of India.

Earlier in August, a three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising 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, holding it is a “premature” challenge.

However, on being specifically requested by senior advocate Fali S Nariman, who represented the AoR Association, the court had noted in its order that “it would be open to the petitioners to approach this court at an appropriate stage and make all submissions on merits”.

It is this liberty granted to them by the Supreme Court, which is forming the basis for their renewed claim. Senior advocate Bishwajit Bhattacharya, who had earlier challenged the NJAC through a separate petition, still maintains the contention that since the cure seemed to be worse than the disease, it had to be challenged.

Read the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014 and The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-First Amendment) Bill, 2014, here.

Read more news about the case here.

Read the notification here.