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SC to hear petitions against scrapping of collegium system

New Delhi, Aug 21 (PTI): The Supreme Court will hear on Monday a batch of petitions challenging the 121st Constitutional amendment by which the collegium system for appointment of judges in higher judiciary was scrapped and a new mechanism under National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) was proposed to be put in place.

When advocates appearing for petitioners challenging the NJAC measure pleaded that urgent hearing should be given to them, a bench headed by Chief Justice R.M. Lodha said that the matter is coming for hearing on Monday.        

Four public-interest litigations have been filed in the Supreme Court for declaring the NJAC move as unconstitutional, days after Parliament passed two Bills to scrap the collegium system for appointments in higher judiciary and to provide a new mechanism in its place.

The PILs have been filed by former Additional Solicitor General Bishwajit Bhattacharya, advocates R.K. Kapoor and Manohar Lal Sharma and the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association.

The lawyers submitted that the 121st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the NJAC Bill, 2014, passed by Parliament were unconstitutional as they violate the basic structure of the Constitution.

”The Constitution itself recognises a clear demarcation separating the judiciary from the executive under Article 50 of the Constitution which is the underlying strength for a sound judicial system.

”It would be relevant to point out here that Article 50 of the Directive Principles of the State Policy under the Constitution is not only applicable to the lower judiciary but is also applicable to the higher judiciary as the doctrine of separation of power and the independence of the judiciary were basic immutable features of the Constitution,” Kapoor submitted.