New Delhi: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court today declared as unconstitutional the law brought by the NDA government to replace the over two-decade- old collegium system of judges appointing judges in the higher judiciary.
The apex court, which quashed the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act in an unanimous verdict, also declared as unconstitutional the 99th amendment to the Constitution to bring in the Act to replace the collegium system.
The unanimous verdict quashing the NJAC Act was delivered by a five-judge Constitution bench comprising justices J.S. Khehar, J. Chelameswar M.B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A.K. Goel which also rejected the plea of Central government to refer for review to larger bench the 1993 and 1998 verdict of the apex court on the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
While four judges held as unconstitutional the 99th amendment of the Constitution, Justice Chelameswar differed with them and gave his own reasons for upholding its validity.
Justice Khehar, who pronounced the judgment for the bench, said that the system of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice and judges of the high courts and transfer of judges from one high court to another has been in the Constitution prior to the 99th amendment.
The bench also said it was willing to take suggestions for improving the collegium system of appointment of judges and posted the hearing for November 3. Justice Khehar said each one of us have recorded their reasons and order has been jointly signed.