NJAC verdict: No conflict between govt and judiciary, says Arun Jaitley
New Delhi: Days after he spoke against the Supreme Court's reasoning for striking down the NJAC Act, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said that there is no confrontation between judiciary and government or between judiciary and Parliament.
Holding that the Supreme Court is constitutionally empowered to strike down a constitutional amendment, Jaitley said that the debate for a better system for appointment of judges will continue.
"The Supreme Court has rightly or wrongly decided. The judgment will be complied with. The NJAC is dead and gone but debate for a better system for appointment of judges will continue. It can happen in public and in Parliament as India needs an independent and credible judiciary," he said yesterday during a TV debate.
"No one is doubting that. My 'tyranny of unelected' comment was meant against the deep distrust of politicians shown by the judges. My criticism was against the premise of the judgment that politicians could not be trusted and the judiciary as an institution needs to be protected from elected representatives," he added.
In unusually strong remarks over the Supreme Court's reasoning for striking down the NJAC Act, Jaitley had on Sunday said Indian democracy cannot be a 'tyranny of the unelected' and to strengthen independence of judiciary, one does not have to weaken Parliamentary sovereignty.
He had also termed as 'erroneous logic' reasons given by the five-judge Constitution bench which declared as unconstitutional the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014 and also the 99th Constitution Amendment.
On the other hand, former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha defended the Supreme Court's ruling saying he could not believe the 'tyranny of the unelected' criticism coming from Jaitley.
Justice Lodha, however, agreed that the two-decade old Collegium system had its flaws.
"The system is opaque and secretive. There is lack of expert evaluation of merit of a candidate considered for appointment as judge," he said.
Last week, the government suffered a major setback when a five-judge bench headed by Justice JS Kehar declared the 99th Constitutional Amendment and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act unconstitutional and revived the 22-year old Collegium system, putting the judiciary on a collision course with Parliament and the government.