Soon after the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill received the President’s assent, it finds itself in a legal tussle again, with the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association and at least three Supreme Court lawyers ready to approach the Court with fresh Writ Petition after it reopens of January 5th after the winter break.
Last week, 16 states had ratified the 121st amendment to the Constitution, which grants Constitutional status to the National Judicial Appointments Commission, in line with the constitutional requirement.
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.
Advocate M.L. Sharma is seeking to approach the Court to review his petition. Another petitioner, Advocate R.K. Kapoor, said he would move a fresh petition as early as possible since the NJAC is a severe threat to the basic structure of the Constitution that envisages judiciary’s independence as being non-negotiable.
These PILs were filed by former Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharya, advocates R.K. Kapoor and Manohar Lal Sharma and Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association. Read the LiveLaw story here.
Also, former Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal and eminent Jurist Fali Nariman had earlier in August, decided to challenge the Constitutional validity of Constitution (121st Amendment) Bill, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014. Read the LiveLaw story here.
Members of the Bar had been expressing their concern over judicial scrutiny of the Bill. Senior Supreme Court advocate P.P. Rao reportedly said the Bill “is an exercise for the Executive to get a handle on judicial appointments”.
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 Bill here.