Monday November 19, 2018
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NJAC has component of hit and trial experiment, says Central government

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New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) for appointments to higher judiciary had a component of a “hit and trial” experiment for finding the best people for the posts.

Contending that there was an element of uncertainty in every new experiment, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the constitution bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J. Chelameswar, Justice Madan B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel that similarly there was “hit and trial” component in the NJAC.

Urging the court that the NJAC should be given a chance to have its run before being subjected to any critical evaluation, Rohatgi said “God knows” what would eventually emerge from it in terms of selection of judges.

But the court was not convinced.

“Only problem is that we can’t leave it to God. It is not a hit and trial business,” the court told Rohatgi reminding him that it was too serious an issue to be left to “hit and trial” or “God”.

At this, Rohatgi said: “If there could be hit and trial for democracy, hit and trial for secularism, hit and trial for federalism, then why not judiciary. Hit and trial is a part of democracy.”

Attacking the collegium system of appointment as being devoid of “transparency, rules and guidelines and something happening in a closed room away from sunlight”, he however said the blame for the system’s failure lay at the doorsteps of the government, but sought to know if this still prevented the parliament from putting in place a “broad-based, healthier, transparent” NJAC.

At this, the court asked him to give it the names of the people who were “good” and were recommended for appointment to higher judiciary by the government but were not accepted by the collegium.

“Show us one incident, where there was a good material (name recommended). You (government) projected that material and sent it to collegium and it was returned,” it said.

Justice Kurian once again asked Rohatgi to furnish the list of the people recommended by the collegium for appointment but returned by the government for reconsideration and the collegium again reiterated the names.

Its query came while addressing the contention that under the collegium system – also known as judges appointing judges – the government has no voice and there was give and take amongst the judges involving “you scratch my back, I will scratch yours” in a closed room without sunlight.

Referring to an instance where after receiving a positive report on the credentials of a person recommended for appointment as judge by the collegium, the government sought another report from the Intelligence Bureau, the court asked: “What is the question or the occasion (for the government) to ask for the second opinion (of the IB)… we want to know the working of the system.”

“It is a question of the working of a system,” the court told the Attorney General as he reiterated his submission that “once a new system (for judges’ appointment) comes, it is not in the provinces of the judiciary to decide on its validity on the basis of comparison with other models (collegium system)”.

The court is hearing a batch of petitions including one by the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA) along with the Bar Association of India, NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation and others challenging the constitutional validity of the constitution’s Ninety Nine Amendment Act, 2014 and NJAC Act, 2014.

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

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India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)