National Judicial Commission Bill, 2022


    In News

    • National Judicial Commission Bill, 2022 was recently introduced in Rajya Sabha.

    More about the news

    • About:
      • NJAC, 2022 is a private member bill to regulate the appointment of judges through the National Judicial Commission was introduced in Rajya Sabha.
    • Aim:
      • It aims to regulate the procedure to be followed by the National Judicial Commission for recommending people for appointment as the Chief Justice of India and other judges of the Supreme Court and Chief Justices and other judges of High Courts.
    • Highlights of the bill:
      • Transfer of Judges:
        • The bill, if approved, will also regulate the transfers of Judges and lay down judicial standards.
      • Accountability of judges:
        • It will provide for accountability of judges, and establish a credible and expedient mechanisms for investigating individual complaints for misbehaviour or incapacity of a judge of the apex court or of a high court and to regulate the procedure for such investigation.
      • Removal of judges:
        • It also proposes the presentation of an address by parliament to the president in relation to proceeding for the removal of a judge and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

    More about the National Judicial Commission (NJAC)

    • Significance: 
      • The need for the National Judicial Appointment Commission was aroused because many jurists criticised the existing collegium system, stating that India is the only country where judges appoint themselves and have the power of determining their transfers
    • Statute for NJAC:
      • The NJAC was proposed via the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2014
        • In order to have a more transparent system, the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act was enacted.
      • The commission was established by the 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014. 
      • The Act proposed that the members of NJAC would be composed of members from the legislative, judicial, and civil society. 
    • Apex Court’s action:
      • In a collective order, in 2015, the Supreme Court by a majority of 4:1 struck down the NJAC Act, of 2014.
      • The NJAC Act was termed unconstitutional citing it as having affected the independence of the judiciary. 

    Issues with NJAC

    • SC’s previous action:
      • The concept of NJAC has come under the consideration of the Supreme Court three times in 1993, 1998, and 2016. 
      • All three times, while giving importance to the independence of the judiciary, the Supreme Court dismissed the framework of the NJAC.
    • Issue of political influence:
      • It is cited critics that the judiciary is the only independent institution left in the country. 
        • It is harmful to allow political influence over it. 
      • It is also stated that the collegium system is functioning smoothly. 
        • There is scope for improvement, but not for any political interference. The central government should in no manner be allowed to control the appointment of the judiciary.
    • Culture of reciprocity:
      • The involvement of the legislature in the appointment of judges might lead to the creation of a culture of ‘reciprocity.’ 
      • Meaning that judges might have the feeling of having to pay back the political executive as a consideration for their appointment to the post of judge
    • Constitutional impossibility:
      • The recent bill was opposed in the Rajya Sabha, calling it a “constitutional impossibility”.

    About Collegium system

    • About:
      • Judges of the High Courts and the Supreme Court are appointed by the provisions mentioned in Articles 124 and 217 of the Constitution of India. 
        • Articles 124 and 217 state that the President shall appoint judges to the Supreme Court and high courts after consultation with the Chief Justice of India and other judges.
    • Significance of the system:
      • The collegium system was created to maintain the basic structure of the Constitution by keeping the judiciary independent. 
      • It was also to ensure that the Chief Justice of India does not impose his or her individual opinion regarding the appointment of judges, but rather it is a collective opinion of the entire body.  
    • Issues with the current collegium system:
      • The collegium system does not provide any guidelines or criteria for the appointment of the Supreme Court judges and it increases the ambit of favouritism
      • In the collegium system, there are no criteria for testing the candidate or for doing a background check to establish the credibility of the candidate
      • The absence of an administrative body is also a reason for worry because it means that the members of the collegium system are not answerable for the selection of any of the judges.

    Way ahead

    • The matter is very critical and complex because, on the one hand, the judiciary should act independently, but on the other hand, the legislature and the executive cannot be completely excluded.
    • The only reasonable solution is to frame NJAC Act in a manner in which the powers of legislature and executive are diluted but at the same time a guideline needs to be formed and the judicial appointment should be carried out in its accordance to ensure transparency and to give a methodical approach towards the appointment of judges.