Law minister DV Sadanand Gowda said he was surprised by the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the National Judicial Advisory Committee Act 2014, which would have given the government a say in the appointment of judges to the country's higher courts. Gowda said he would consult with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior colleagues on the issue.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the ruling ignored the will of the Parliament and called the collegium system "opaque and unaccountable".
The Supreme Court on Friday morning had declared the NJAC Act unconstitutional and said the 20-year-old collegium system, in which a panel of judges makes the appointments, would continue. However, the court said the old system needs to be improved, and would address arguments for this in a later hearing.
Here are some reactions to the verdict:
Why the NJAC ruling matters:
- The six-member NJAC was to comprise the Chief Justice of India, two senior Supreme Court judges, the law minister and two "eminent people".
- Both Houses of Parliament had passed the NJAC Act in 2014, claiming the committee would be more transparent in selecting judges, and that the old system was plagued with nepotism and controversial appointments.
- However, top lawyers had appealed to the Apex court, saying the NJAC Act would compromise the independence of the judiciary. They claimed it was unconstitutional to let the Executive, especially the law minister, decide on judicial appointments.
- More than 390 appointments to the Supreme and High courts have been stalled for more than six months while constitutional bench has been mulling over the Act.