New Delhi: Noted jurist Ram Jethmalani on Tuesday attacked the Centre's defence of the new law on appointment of judges saying it would compromise with the independence of the judiciary and give primacy to the executive.
Questioning the need for a new system of appointment of judges replacing the collegium, he was responding to the submissions made by the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi which he termed as "insulting" and "disgrace to the nation".
"I am appalled at the submissions made by the Attorney General (AG) in his four-volume response. It is insulting to hear the AG. The only issue is the primacy of CJI in the appointment of the judges which is the basic feature of the Constitution.
"If the previous decision of this court by a bench of equivalent strength has come to a conclusion that there is a primacy of judiciary in the judicial appointments and is the basic feature of the Constitution, it can certainly not be modified," he submitted before a five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice J S Khehar.
The hearing in the matter, which resumed after a break of over a fortnight, saw Jethmalani also criticising several provisions of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and said "it is a time that what is the basic feature has to determined in the context of Constitutional text".
He said the Attorney General has not even mentioned in his submission the important judgement of this court on the issue about which every law student would have knowledge but referred to the model of appointment of judges from the countries that manifest the supremacy of executive in judicial appointment.
"The previous judgement of this court is binding and cannot be over-ruled. What insults me as a citizen of India that AG in his submission states that the country must adopt the Constitutional model adopted by Pakistan, Ceylon and Australia.
"These models show the supremacy of executive in judicial appointment. He advises this court to accept what is being done in Pakistan, Ceylon and Australia. I do feel insulted by this kind of submission.
"In the judgement of Shamsher Singh, this matter was considered by this court and illustrious of equivalent strength concluded that Constituent Assembly of India had surveyed entire Constitutional field of the world and ultimately adopted the British model.
He said it is amazing that, in his submission, the AG has not even made a reference of this judgement.