CJI HL Dattu Declines to Participate in Selecting Members for NJAC

Supreme Court bench hearing the constitutional validity of NJAC will however continue hearing the issue. 

2 min read
Chief Justice of India HL Dattu (second from right) at the Patna High Court centenary celebrations. (Photo: PTI)

In a new twist, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) H L Dattu has refused to participate in a three-member panel for selecting members for the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC).

The three-member panel comprises Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister and the Leader of Opposition,

The panel was supposed to select two eminent persons on the six-member panel on whose validity a constitution bench began hearings on Monday.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the panel that CJI Dattu has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi informing him that he would not participate in the meeting of the panel till the matter is decided by the apex court.

The matter is being heard by a five-judge constitution bench, headed by Justice J S Khehar. It will decide on the constitutional validity of the new law on appointment of judges to higher judiciary.

When it was brought to the notice of the bench, also comprising Justices J Chelameswar, Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Adarsh Kumar Goel, it heard the views of various senior advocates on how to proceed with the matter taking into account that in the immediate future there would be the eventuality of appointing existing additional judges of the high courts whose tenures are coming to an end.

After taking note of their views, the judges retired to their chambers and assembled after 15 minutes. Justice Khehar said that the bench has decided to continue with the hearing on the merits of the case and if needed it will pass an interim order.

The AG submitted that it is mandatory for the CJI to be the part of the panel in selection and appointment of eminent persons in the six-member commission. He said a direction should be passed for the CJI to participate in the meeting.

However, his view was not shared by senior advocate Fali S Nariman, who is appearing for Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association (SCAORA), said that if the CJI is not participating, the bench can direct others to meet and participate.

(With inputs from PTI)

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