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Legal fraternity suspects government may encroach upon judicial independence

Posted on Aug 13 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Aug 13 : The legal fraternity has strongly reacted to the Lok Sabha passing a bill for setting up the National Judicial Appointment Commission for appointing judges to the Supreme Court and the high courts, describing it as a hasty move and expressing apprehensions of judicial independence being encroached upon by the government.

Well known activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) for the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary was not in "public interest".

"It is not in public interest because it gives veto power to government to stop any appointment thereby compromising the independence of judiciary," Prashant Bhushan said.

Echoing similar sentiments, former additional solicitor general and senior counsel Bishwajit Bhattacharyya described it as a retrograde step that will compromise the independence of the judiciary.

"This is a retrograde step and this will compromise the independence of judiciary. It will strike at the doctrine of separation of powers and violate the basic structure of the constitution," said Bhattacharyya.

Admitting that there were defects in the collegium system that needed improvement, Bhattacharyya said the "collegium system for the appointment of judges was definitely better" and replacing it with NJAC was not a remedy.

"Government should have provided adequate funds and created infrastructure instead of passing a bill to set up NJAC", he said.

Desisting from outright rejection of the NJAC, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president P.H. Parekh felt that there should have been wide ranging consultations and deliberations before the government moved to push out the collegium system.

"I think there should have been wide ranging consultation and deliberations before pushing the bill. The NJAC concept is alright but giving veto to one or two members requires to be debated," said Parekh in his reaction to the passage of the bill in the Lok Sabha.

"It is a welcome measure and is worth experimenting with", said senior counsel and former additional solicitor general K.V. Vishwanathan but keeping his fingers crossed added, "However, as to how good it will be, will depend on the men and women who work it."

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