National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014

National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014

NJAC Bill were passed by Parliament in August 2014.

Main Features:

1. NJAC will replace the collegium system for the appointment of judges as mandated in the existing pre-amended constitution by a new system.
2. NJAC will become a constitutional body.
3. It will give executive equal role in appointments.


- Chief Justice of India (Chairperson, ex officio)

- Two other senior judges of the Supreme Court next to the Chief Justice of India - ex officio

- The Union Minister of Law and Justice, ex-officio

- Two eminent persons (to be nominated by a committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister of India and the Leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha or where there is no such Leader of Opposition, then, the Leader of single largest Opposition Party in Lok Sabha), provided that of the two eminent persons, one person would be from the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes or OBC or minority communities or a woman. The eminent persons shall be nominated for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for re-nomination.

The two-decade old Supreme Court Collegium system for appointing judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts will continue until the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) is put in place

collegium system

The Supreme Court of India's collegium system, which appoints judges to the nation's constitutional courts, has its genesis in, and continued basis resting on, three of its own judgments which are collectively known as the Three Judges Cases. The court then created the collegium system, which has been in use since the judgment in the Second Judges Case was issued in 1993.

Drawbacks of collegium System

1. No mention of the collegium either in the original Constitution of India or in successive amendments.
2. It is a closed door process of selection, often driven by considerations other than merit that fail to ensure fairness and impartiality of the system altogether.
3. The grounds for elevation and appointment are known to only those who are part of the collegium, making the process a highly secretive and arbitrary one.
4. Merit is often sidestepped for seniority, and sometimes in favor of caste and regional representation or kith and kin.
5. Collegiums system does not provide an adequate tenure for the chief justices of the High Court.


The NJAC Act, 2014 empowers the National Judicial Appointments Commission to make recommendations to the President for appointment of judges.
Advantages of NJAC

1. Composition of NJAC gives equal power Judiciary.
2. Role of CJI is only as a nominal head as he does not have veto power or no casting vote in situations of tie.
3. It will ensure judicial transparency and independence.

Drawbacks of NJAC

1. While appointing the eminent person, there has been no mention about whether such person is to be eminent in the field of law or otherwise.
2. Phrase “eminent” is too wide in scope and capable of being misused.
3. In the matter of appointing the next CJI – with the incumbent CJI sitting out the vote, the judicial members of the Commission will become a minority, and the determination of the next CJI practically left to the Executive.
4. Government introduced two bills National Judicial Appointment Commission Bill and the 121st Constitutional Amendment Bill. If provisions of the NJAC Bill accommodated within the Amendment Bill then it would have resulted in a pre-decided eligibility criteria for appointment of judges, set and carved in stone into the Constitution, thus unchangeable by a simple Parliamentary majority.
5. Increased role of executives might theraten independence of judiciary as a role of judiciary has become prominent with its ruling on coal scams 2G-3G scam etc.
6. Recommendation of the Chief Justice of India would be reduced to mere suggestion.


It should implement recommendation of Venkatachaliah Committee, endorsed by the Vajpayee government, which suggested a panel of three judges, the Union Minister and only one ‘eminent person’, thus reducing the scope for executive interference. Also provisions of the NJAC Bill accommodated within the 121 Amendment Bill and unbiased definition of eminent must be put in place.
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