New Delhi: Over a month after the Supreme Court struck down a law on appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, the government today asserted in Lok Sabha that Parliament has "power" to "govern" the criteria and process for appointment of judges to the apex court and high courts.
"...Parliament shall have the power within parameters of the Constitution to govern the criteria and process for appointment of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts," Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said in a written reply.
Ten members had asked the government whether it proposes to 'review' the National Judicial Appointments Act, 2014 after the SC struck down the law on October 16.
They had also sought details of the proposed 'follow up' action after the apex court verdict.
Gowda said after the order, the collegium system of appointment of judges has been again declared as operational.
As the Supreme Court considers introduction of "appropriate measures" to improve the working of collegium system, the government has submitted its suggestions for the same, he said.
"The government has taken the stand that it reserves its liberty to take such action as it may decide fit and nothing in the suggestions made by the government or participation in the proceedings ought to be construed as the government being estopped from such action," he said.
This is for the first time the Law Minister has spoken in Parliament on the SC verdict on NJAC Act.
During a discussion on 'commitment to the Constitution' in the Rajya Sabha on November 27, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said that no position of law "can ever justify" a situation where the CJI appoints other judges and everyone else becomes irrelevant.
Noting that independence of judiciary is absolutely essential, the lawyer-turned-politician said appointment of judges to high judiciary should be done through a consultative process.
"Today, the absolute contrary to what Dr Ambedkar had envisaged is happening," Jaitley said, adding, "today we have reached a position where CJI...will appoint and everyone else is irrelevant. No position of law can ever justify it," he had said. The collegium system made a return after a gap of six months after the SC verdict.
The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act and an accompanying constitution amendment act were brought into force on April 13. It overturned the collegium system. But the two Acts were struck down on October 16 by a Constitution bench of the apex court.
The Samajwadi Party had also taken strong objection to the apex court's decision to strike down the NJAC law passed by Parliament, saying such decisions of the court should be discussed in the House.