The Supreme Court on Friday declared the 99th amendment of the constitution as void and "unconstitutional" while striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) that sought to replace the 22-year-old collegium system for appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.
The apex court declared the constitutional 99th amendment, which was meant to pave way for the NJAC and the NJAC Act, 2014, unconstitutional as "it violates the basic structure of the constitution," Advocate Surat Singh told the media.
Striking down the proposal to set up NJAC, the SC constitution Bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice J Chelameswar, Justice Madan B Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel restored the old collegium system for the appointment and transfer of judges in the higher Indian judiciary.
The court said the system of "appointment of judges to the SC, chief justices and judges of the high courts and the transfer of chief justices and judges of the high courts that existed prior to the amendment begins to be operative".
The SC also sought for suggestions from the bar to improve the functioning of the collegium system and will hear the same on 3 November.
The ground for unconstitutionality is that it violates the basic structure of the constitution: Surat Singh,Advocate pic.twitter.com/ZNbOTqJsEH
â€” ANI (@ANI_news) October 16, 2015
The apex court declared its verdict after hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the NJAC. The petitioners had contended that constitutional amendment paving way for the NJAC Act, 2014, came into effect on 31 December last year, when President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to it after more than two-third of the state assemblies ratified it.
The petitioners had also contended that the independence of judiciary starts with the process of the appointment of judges. They had also opposed the provision for two eminent people on the NJAC and veto power allowing any two NJAC members to block an appointment they opposed, IANS reported.