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Logic of SC Order Striking Down National Judicial Appointments Commission Flawed: Ravi Shankar Prasad

The apex court verdict which struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act had said that the presence of the law minister would compromise on the independence of the body to select judges.

PTI

Updated:October 11, 2019, 9:55 PM IST
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Logic of SC Order Striking Down National Judicial Appointments Commission Flawed: Ravi Shankar Prasad
File picture of Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said that the government had accepted the Supreme Court's 2015 judgement striking down a law which sought to give the executive a greater say in appointment of judges but he has "very strong reservations" on the "patently flawed" logic given in the order.

He also referred to illustrations of Lord Ram, Krishna, Hanuman in the original Constitution of India, saying these represent the cultural heritage of the country.

"Had the Constitution been framed today with these illustrations, what kind of storm it would have triggered," he wondered.

The apex court verdict which struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act had said that the presence of the law minister would compromise on the independence of the body to select judges.

Addressing a gathering at the launch of a book, Prasad said when the prime minister can be trusted with the nuclear arsenal of the country and appointment of constitutional authorities such as the Chief Election Commissioner and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner, how can his representative in the NJAC cannot be trusted with appointing good judges.

"I have very, very strong reservations at the flawed logic given in the judgement... the government has accepted and respects the judgement," he said.

He said even before the collegium system came into being in 1991, good judges were appointed. To drive home his point, he said a judge appointed by the collegium was hauled up by the Supreme Court for contempt.

On October 16, 2015, a Constitution Bench of Supreme Court by a 4:1 majority upheld the collegium system and struck down the NJAC as unconstitutional. Referring to those who accuse the BJP of pushing its philosophy of "nationalism", Prasad said there is a lot of debate on the issue.

"Some say we believe in constitutional nationalism and not Modi's or BJP's nationalism. I ask those as to whether they have seen the original copy of Constitution ... it has illustrations of Lord Ram, Krishna, Hanuman, Shivaji, Lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, Akbar, but not Babar or Aurangzeb ... It (the original copy of the Constitution) was signed by Rajendra Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru ... it represents India's cultural heritage," he said.

Prasad said suppose the Constitution was framed today with such illustrations, it would have triggered a storm. "India's constitution which is deprived of its cultural roots would not be permanent. This was the thinking behind it," he said.

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