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Thursday, May 25, 2017

“in consultation”, which expression has been understood by judicial opinion to confer primacy to the opinion of the Chief Justice, the absence thereof in the Act, by itself, will not render Section 4(1)(d) thereof ultra vires the basic structure of the Constitution.

                                                                  REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
                       TRANSFERRED CASE(C) NO.25/2015

JUST SOCIETY                                     ...PETITIONER

                                   VERSUS

UNION OF INDIA                               ...RESPONDENT

                               J U D G M E N T




RANJAN GOGOI, J.






1.          The petitioner seeks a declaration to the  effect  that  certain
provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act,  2013  (hereinafter  for  short
‘the Act’) namely, Sections 3(2)(a) and 4(1)(d), 4(1)(e), 4(2),  the  second
proviso to Section 4(3), Section 10, the proviso to Section  14(3),  Section
16, Section 37(2) and Section 63 are ultra vires Articles 14 and 50  of  the
Constitution of India.  The challenge  in  the  aforesaid  transferred  case
(No.25 of 2015) is primarily founded on the ground that  the  Chief  Justice
of India or his nominee Judge of the Supreme Court,  under  Section  4(1)(d)
of the Act, is a mere Member of the  Selection  Committee  and  the  opinion
rendered either by the Chief Justice of India or his nominee  judge  has  no
primacy in the matter  of  selection  of  Chairperson  and  Members  of  the
Lokpal.  The aforesaid contention is sought to be  fortified  on  the  basis
that four former judges of this Court  had  exercised  their  option  to  be
considered for the post of Chairperson and in such a  situation  it  is  the
Hon'ble the Chief Justice of India or his nominee Judge alone who  would  be
best situated to decide on the suitability of any such former judge of  this
Court who has/may have opted to be considered for appointment.  It  is  also
contended on behalf of the petitioner, that  there  are  no  norms/criterion
laid down for appointment of an 'eminent jurist' under  Section  4(1)(e)  of
the Act thereby rendering the aforesaid provision of  the  Act  legally  and
constitutionally fragile.

2.          We fail  to  see  how  any  of  the  aforesaid  contentions  can
establish any infirmity or fragility of the provisions of  the  Act  in  the
light of any of the constitutional provisions so as to render  the  relevant
sections of the Act ultra vires.


3.          The fact that primacy of the opinion of  the  Chief  Justice  or
his nominee is accorded by certain statutes by use  of  the  expression  “in
consultation”, which expression has been understood by judicial  opinion  to
confer primacy to the opinion of the Chief Justice, the absence  thereof  in
the Act, by itself, will not render Section 4(1)(d) thereof ultra vires  the
basic structure of the Constitution. If the Legislature in  its  wisdom  had
thought it proper not to accord primacy to the opinion of the Chief  Justice
or his nominee and accord equal status to the opinion rendered by the  Chief
Justice or his nominee and treat  such  opinion  at  par  with  the  opinion
rendered by other members of the Selection Committee,  we  do  not  see  how
such legislative wisdom can be questioned on the  ground  of  constitutional
infirmity. It is not the mandate of the Constitution  that  in  all  matters
concerning the appointment to various Offices in different  bodies,  primacy
must be accorded to the  opinion  of  the  Chief  Justice  or  his  nominee.
Whether such primacy should be accorded or not is  for  the  legislature  to
decide and if the legislative opinion engrafted in the  present  Act  is  in
contrast to what is provided  for  in  other  Statute(s),  such  legislative
intention,  by  itself,  cannot  be  understood   to   be   constitutionally
impermissible.

4.          Insofar as the appointment of an eminent  jurist  is  concerned,
we do not consider it necessary to delve into the issue except to  say  that
the  decision  being  left  to  a  high  power  body  consisting   of   high
Constitutional functionaries enumerated in Section  4(1)(a)  to  4(1)(d)  of
the  Act,  no  ex-facie  illegality  can  be  discerned  in  the  provisions
contained in Section 4(1)(e) of the Act. Even if the  Act  is  to  lay  down
norms,  it  would  be  difficult  to  understand  the   same   to   be   all
comprehensive, satisfying all concerned. No declaration of infirmity of  the
provisions contained in Section 4(1)(e) of the Act can be made on the  basis
of the grounds urged.

5.          Consequently and in the light of the above, we find no merit  in
this Transferred Case. The writ petition filed by the petitioner-Society  is
dismissed accordingly.

                                                     ....................,J.
                               (RANJAN GOGOI)


                                                     ....................,J.
                                (NAVIN SINHA)

NEW DELHI
APRIL 27, 2017

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