Congress, BJP at loggerheads over NJAC issue

As Government mulled over the way forward after the NJAC setback, Congress on Saturday indicated it would not support any move to bring back a revised legislation for appointments to higher judiciary after it gave its backing to the law, inviting accusations of a U-turn by the BJP.

New Delhi: As Government mulled over the way forward after the NJAC setback, Congress on Saturday indicated it would not support any move to bring back a revised legislation for appointments to higher judiciary after it gave its backing to the law, inviting accusations of a U-turn by the BJP.

As part of its strategy to deal with the Supreme Court verdict that struck down as unconstitutional the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, the government could also convene an all-party meeting to take everyone along on any new legislation.

As Congress appeared to be siding with the judiciary, the ruling BJP accused it of playing "petty politics" and taking a U-turn in the wake of the Dadri lynching incident.

The Government is, meanwhile, unlikely to immediately rush for a review of the verdict by the apex court which overturned its law on appointment of judges to higher judiciary but would put forth its views on ways to improve the collegium system which will now return when it takes up the matter next month.

"We are not going to support adventurism of the government per se," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters when asked whether the party, which had backed the NJAC bill, will support any fresh move by the government to bring a new law to give the executive a say in appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

"You have to forget the past and look ahead. ?.The way forward is to realize that there is a great trust deficit as far as Government is concerned.

"That grave and great trust deficit arises not from an individual act - there is a perceived assault on Institutions on procedures and practices and persons which has led to a feeling that this government wants to impose its will through institutions including the judiciary," he said.

He also deprecated the government's "adventurism" in subverting "hallowed" institutions.

"The adventurism we have seen till now has been of subverting hallowed Institutions and certainly the judiciary is the most hallowed of them.

"You may not have seen a direct assault till now but given the past record, in less than 18 months in trying to dilute and subvert Institutions, I think it is a very fair warning where the judiciary is concerned," he said referring to the apex court's verdict that will bring back the collegium system of judges appointing judges.

Commenting on the matter, senior Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said, "With the Executive having more voice, the dominant voice in the selection of judges and the primacy of the judiciary and Chief Justice of India is undermined.

"That should never be allowed to happen as the Constitution is supreme, not the Executive," he said.

"It is important that the primacy of judiciary is there," he said, adding that even the legislature takes oath under the Constitution. He also said that there is a "clear separation of powers".

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra, however, was quick to attack Congress as he reminded that the party had supported the NJAC Bill along with all other parties in Parliament.

"We should remind Congress that when NJAC was brought on the floor of Parliament, there was 100 per cent support for it among political parties. Congress, too, had supported it and 20 state Assemblies had alsosupported it and this is absolutely important as far as the decision of the polity of the country," he added. 

 

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