The Centre has no plans to reintroduce the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Rijiju’s statement came at a time when the government and the judiciary are in a tussle on the process of making judicial appointments in the country. Rijiju himself has repeatedly criticised the existing collegium system of appointments.
In 2015, the Supreme Court had struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act passed by Parliament months after Narendra Modi took over as the prime minister in 2014. The court had deemed the law unconstitutional.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission proposed to make judicial appointments through a body comprising of the chief justice, two senior Supreme Court judges, the law minister and two other eminent persons nominated by the chief justice, the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition.
On Thursday, Rijiju clarified the government’s stand on the National Judicial Appointments Commission in response to a question asked by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and Communist Party of India leader John Brittas.
The law minister added that the Union government appoints only those persons as judges who are recommended by Supreme Court collegium. The minister also said that as of December 5, recommendations made by the collegium to appoint one Supreme Court judge and eight High Courts judges are pending with the government.
Judicial appointments row
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju had told the news channel Times Now on November 26 that the collegium system is not in consonance with the Constitution. Two days later, the Supreme Court had objected to the statement.
On December 2, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar criticised the Supreme Court for striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act.
“Power of the people, which was expressed through a legitimate platform, that power was undone. The world does not know of any such instance,” he had said about the Supreme Court’s 2015 verdict..
Dhankhar reiterated his criticism in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. A day later, the Supreme Court again weighed in on the debate, stating that the collegium system is the law of the land and must be adhered to.