Power of the people was undone: Jagdeep Dhankhar criticises SC for striking down NJAC Act
On December 2, 2022, Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar blasted the Supreme Court for overturning the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act in 2015. He stated, “We the people – their ordination was translated into a constitutional clause” at the LM Singhvi Memorial Lecture.
He continued that the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act caused “no whisper” in Parliament and was “too significant an issue.” He said that “the world does not know of any such incident” in which legislation passed by Parliament, which represents the voice of the people, was “undone” by the Supreme Court. He further asserted that the courts could investigate a substantive legal question when it involves one, citing sections of the Constitution.
What Is the NJAC Act?
The appointment of judges to the High courts and the Supreme Court of India has been a considerable dispute over the years. Article 124 of the Constitution relates to appointing judges to the Supreme Court, while Article 217 deals with selecting judges for high courts. According to both of these rules, judges must be chosen “in consultation” with the Chief Justice of India or other relevant judges of the Supreme Court.
On August 11, 2014, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister of Law and Justice, proposed the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014, in the Lok Sabha. The Bill outlines the process that the NJAC must follow when recommending candidates for appointment as the Chief Justice of India and other Supreme Court (SC) judges, as well as the Chief Justice and other judges of High Courts (HC).
Why did the Supreme Court Reject NJAC Act?
The Supreme Court dismissed the NJAC Act, saying that the court cannot take the chance of becoming entangled in a “web of indebtedness” to the government. The 99th Constitutional Amendment attempted to give political leaders and public members the last say over who would be appointed to the highest courts. The Supreme Court stated that it is difficult to hold that the political executive can share in the judgment of appointing judges. The spontaneous growth of civil society in India has yet to progress to a suitable level.
Mr. Dhankhar Made The Statements In Front Of CJI
At the 8th LM Memorial Lecture, held by the O.P. Jindal University on Friday, Mr. Dhankhar made these comments in front of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud. His remarks are relevant given the ongoing verbal battle between the Supreme Court and Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju over the holdup in judicial appointments.
Vice President Dhankhar appeals to the legal elite class and intelligent people to locate a nation where a constitutional provision can be overturned. Then he discusses how the courts can strike down such a provision. Imagine what will happen if the Constitutional clause with so many people’s support is repealed. The Vice President brought up the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn parliamentary legislation and cited the basic structural concept. He claimed that there could be nothing more pervasive than people’s rights, which must be reflected through legislation that is addressed, debated, and passed.