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SC seeks Centre’s response on NJAC Act provisions

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked for the central government’s response to contentions that certain provisions of NJAC Act of 2014 dealing with selection of high court judges violated the federal structure and were substantive than procedural in nature.

Asking Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to address this issue, an apex court constitution bench comprising justices Jagdish Singh Khehar, J. Chelameswar, Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel observed: “This will destroy the federal structure.”

The provisions related to the appointment of a high court chief justice and that the National Judicial appointment Commission could forward to high court chief justice for his views the names for appointment of judges to that high court.

The court asked the Solicitor General to address the issues after senior counsel Arvind Dattar appearing for the Madras High Court-based Service Bar Association assailed Section 6(1) and Section 6(3) of the NJAC Act coupled with their requirement of “ability, merit and any other criteria of suitability”.

Dattar said that the NJAC Act was enacted for putting in place a procedure for the appointment of judges to the apex court and high courts, including their chief justices.

But there were provisions under Section 6 and Section 12 which were substantive for laying down the qualifications of those who could be considered for appointment as judges.

He said that the worst part was that all these rules and regulations were subject to review or amendment by parliament which, he said, offended the independence of judiciary, one of the basic structures of the Indian Constitution.

The constitution bench 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 (99th Amendment) Act, 2014 and NJAC Act, 2014.

Pointing to the provision on “ability, merit and any other criteria of suitability”, Dattar said that “suitability becomes synonymous with ability when it becomes norm for the selection of judges”.

Dattar said that he had no qualms in examining the “ability, merit and any other criteria of suitability” of a person being considered for appointment as a judge but the same should find place in the constitutional provision instead of being put in a law which can be amended by parliament by simple majority.

Justice Khehar said that the power to frame rules and regulation is delegated in the NJAC by the NJAC Act, 2014, passed by parliament.

Parliament could have spelt out these rules and regulations on its own and put them in the NJAC Act without delegating it the NJAC, said Justice Khehar.

“So far as procedure (to be followed by NJAC for the appointment of judges) is concerned, the source of power (parliament) which has delegated the power to NJAC (to frame rules and regulation) says I will oversee it and put it under light,” Justice Khehar said while asking what was wrong in it.

“It is abhorrent to say that rules and regulation framed by the NJAC will be subject to parliamentary review or changes,” Dattar said contending that the “eligibility criteria can’t be laid down by a parliamentary law and can only be done in the exercise of the constituent powers by parliament” as any such fixing of qualifications by a statute impinges on the independence of judiciary.

“We are not denying the powers of parliament to (spell out) criteria for the appointment of judges but let it do through the exercise of its constituent powers and not simple lawmaking powers,” Dattar told the court, clarifying that he was not juxtaposing parliament and judiciary.

(IANS)

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Mercy for the Nirbhaya Rapists?

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past.

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Nirbhaya
The Nirbhaya incident in Delhi was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India.

By Salil Gewali

Gender discrimination is the root of many evils. While keeping the aspiration of females down, certain males have committed many wrongs in the past. Apart from various kinds of physical tortures, the mental tortures undergone by defenseless females are endless. Within the confinement of four-walls innumerable sins are still being committed which mostly go unreported. However, it was Nirbhaya’s rape incident in Delhi that was “instrumental” in bringing about a kind of gender awareness renaissance in India. Post-Nirbhaya incident, a lot many changes in the laws have been made. The safety and security of women have been prioritized, the nation-wide the whole police departments have been sensitized, to a greater extent the road transportation has been made women-friendly.

Nirbhaya rape
The public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night.

Thanks to the countless number of protests across the country condemning the six rapists. The people from all walks of life came together and relentlessly pressurized the government that the Nirbhaya convicts must be awarded capital punishment. Media’s contribution in the campaign is immeasurable. Alas, India’s judiciary is so annoyingly slow it has taken over 7 years to pronounce the death sentence.

Nirbhaya rape
Advocate Indira Jaising suggested that the convicts of Nirbhaya rape case could be “forgiven” by the parents.

However, now nothing could be so mind-blowing than the flood of condemnation against the comments by a veteran advocate and social activist Indira Jaising. Without a sense of guilt and potential backlash, she suggested that the convicts be “forgiven” by the parents. Jaising’s idea has clearly touched a raw nerve of the major population in the country. People’s anger is spilled well over social media. What is most noteworthy is the scathing condemnation directly from the horse mouth — the mother Asha Devi. A very bold lady, who determinedly fought for justice for so many years, thunders – “Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Just because of people like her, justice is not done with rape victims,” Asha Devi aptly further adds — “Can’t believe how Jaising even dared to suggest such this; I met her many times over the years in Supreme Court, “not once” she asked for my well-being and today she is speaking for convicts. Such people earn a livelihood by supporting rapists; hence rape incidents don’t stop,”

The latter comments by the Nirbhaya’s mother clearly hint the doubt at the “integrity” of the advocate Ms. Jaising. How on earth that one who has not spoken a word of sympathy in spite of many encounters in the court can reserves the right to suggest that which offends the distressed victim party. Asha Devi deserves a salute for her boldness. Yes, India Jaising is one of the advocates who knocked the door of the Chief Justice of India in the middle of the night in July 2015 in order to seek the mercy for the dreaded terrorist Yakub Menon.

Nirbhaya rapists
In 2015, the Delhi Government proposed to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine.

Again, here is another bombshell to drop which many of us may have forgotten. Can we ever “forgive” for the shocking proposal in 2015 by Delhi Government to award the Nirbhaya juvenile convicts with Rs 10000/- and a sewing machine?  Who has approved such bizarre ideas and which leaders are responsible? What kind of lesson should the citizens take from this?

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I think the public is right and more sensible now to point out the “hard cruelty” with which the gang had sexually tortured Nirbhaya that night. They had used the iron-rod to inflict deep injuries upon the girl which is unspeakable, which is very unpardonable. So, given the increasing cases of rapes and subsequent inhumane cruelty and cold-blooded killings, Capital punishment can be the only answer and “one of the deterrents”. Before the divine retribution, the hard rod of punishment should not be spared at all. 

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali