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NJAC- Bringing strangers to appoint judges not the solution, says Justice Santhosh Hegde

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New Delhi, Oct 16: The Supreme Court of India will deliver an important verdict on the legality of the National Judicial Appointments Commission on Friday. If the validity of the commission is upheld then it would mean curtains for the 22 year old collegium system.

A collegium comprises three senior most judges of a High Court or the Supreme Court which appoints judges to the higher judiciary.

Verdict on legality of NJAC today

However the government sought to change this by bringing in the NJAC. The NJAC would comprise the Chief Justice of India, two senior judges of the Supreme Court, the Union Law Minister and two eminent persons who would decide on the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Court.

Justice Santhosh Hegde, former Supreme Court judge who has been part of the collegium for several years feels that the NJAC should be scrapped as it does not serve any purpose. He tells OneIndia that it is better to eradicate the secrecy in the collegium system rather than bring in the NJAC.

Scrap the NJAC

Justice Hegde says that is absolutely incorrect to have a commission such as the NJAC. The NJAC has two eminent persons who are rank outsiders. They have no idea about the judges or those seeking to become judges. What experience will such persons have?

The two eminent persons will be outsiders and they have no knowledge about the merits of the persons who is likely to become a judge. What is worse is that if two persons reject a person then it becomes the final decision. How can one have such a system.

The collegium on the other hand has first hand information about the system is in a better position to decide on who should become judges. Further one must understand that the post of judge for either the High Court or Supreme Court is by selection and not by application.

It is not a job application that there needs to be a commission to decide on who should become a judge or not. I feel that this move to have an NJAC is an attempt to usurp the powers of the judiciary, Justice Hegde adds.

The solution

When asked about the collegium becoming an exclusive club of the judiciary in India, Justice Hegde noted that it is not right to say that. I do agree that in at least 25 per cent of the cases, the collegium would have failed. The problem is that there is secrecy in the appointment of judges.

To solve the problem, I would rather suggest that the secrecy of the names of the candidates must be removed. Let the public know who the collegium is considering. If there are complaints about the person under consideration, then anyone with a grievance can report to the collegium. Bringing in strangers is not the solution, the former judge of the Supreme Court says.

OneIndia News

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