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Eminent persons given monarchical power under NJAC: SC

PTI 17 Oct 2015, 10:18:04 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that grant of veto power to eminent persons under the NJAC Act amounted to conferring them with "monarchical power" as they could then "stymie" the decision of the President as well as the Chief Justice of India regarding appointing of a judge.

Justice M B Lokur said while there was no problem with consulting eminent persons from all walks of life in appointing judges but that they can veto decisions of the CJI or the President was "unthinkable".

"The sum and substance of this discussion is that in principle, there can be no objection to consultation with eminent persons from all walks of life in the matter of appointment of judges, but that these eminent persons can veto a decision that is taken unanimously or otherwise by the Chief Justice of India (in consultation with other judges and possibly other eminent persons) is unthinkable. it confers virtually a monarchical power on the eminent persons in the NJAC, a power without any accountability," he said.

Justice Lokur also said, "These two eminent persons can actually stymie a recommendation of the NJAC for the appointment of a judge by exercising a veto conferred on each member of the NJAC by the second proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the NJAC Act, and without assigning any reason. In other words, the two eminent persons (or any two members of the NJAC) can stall the appointment of judges without reason. That this may not necessarily happen with any great frequency is not relevant - that such a situation can occur is disturbing."

On selection of the eminent persons, Justice Lokur said the categories "ought not to be limited to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, minorities or women but that is a matter of policy and nothing more can be said about this, except that a rethink is necessary".