Putting at the rest the speculations regarding appointments by the collegium until the National Judicial Appointments Commissions is put in place; Union Law Minister Sadananda Gowda has said that the judicial appointments are not put on hold until the mechanism is structured. Further, he is hoping that the Chief Justice of India, who is the chairman of NJAC, would extend his cooperation as the nomination of two eminent persons to the Commission had to be decided by a high-level panel led by the Prime Minister and including the Chief Justice of India.
One of the eminent persons will be nominated from among the persons belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minorities or women. The eminent persons will be nominated for a period of three years and will not be eligible for renomination.
The NJAC will be headed by the Chief Justice of India. Two senior-most apex court judges, the two eminent persons and the Law Minister will be the members of the high-level panel.
The clarification also comes in the wake of recent reports that the collegium had met recently, to discuss and recommend names for appointment to the Apex Court and the High Courts.
The Agenda of this meeting was a proposal for appointment of Chief Justices of some High Courts. Of the 24 High Courts in the country, seven have acting CJs: Gujarat, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana, Gauhati, Meghalaya, Rajasthan and Sikkim. The Supreme Court is considering the three vacancies that exist presently. Another vacancy will arise on 14th March when Justice S.J. Mukhopadhya retires.
An additional judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court was transferred yesterday to Jammu and Kashmir High Court in the same capacity, making it clear that appointments to higher judiciary continue to be made by the Collegium.
Earlier this month, lawyers had expressed their resentment towards appointments of lawyers with active practice, to the proposed National Judicial Appointments Commission in order to avoid any conflict of interest. They had also demanded that active lawyers should be appointed only when they give an undertaking that they will not appear in Court again. However, such a suggestion could keep out lawyers of eminence such as Fali S Nariman, PP Rao, Harish Salve and KK Venugopal from the zone of consideration.
According to earlier reports, the collegium has paved way for appointment of the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice G. Rohini and Madras High Court, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul to be elevated to the Supreme Court.
Tweets by former Additional Solicitor General, Indira Jaising have further strengthened the claims. Read the LiveLaw story here.
Meanwhile, the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 has been challenged by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association. It has stated that the Parliament does not have the legislative competence to enact the same and that it is violative of Art. 124(2) and 217 (1) of the Constitution of India.
Read more news about the issue here.