Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday claimed that a few retired judges and some activists who are “part of the anti-India gang” are trying to make the Indian judiciary play the role of the opposition party. He again criticised the collegium system to appoint judges, saying it is a result of the “misadventure” of the Congress party.
The minister was speaking at the India Today Conclave, where Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud later defended the collegium system, saying “not every system is perfect but this is the best system we have developed” and the “object was to protect the independence of the judiciary, which is a cardinal value”.
Rijiju also hit out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his remarks in London on democracy in India, saying the person who speaks the most says he is not allowed to speak. “Anti-India forces in India and outside India, they use the same language – democracy is in danger, human rights are non-existent in India. What this anti-India gang says, the same language is used by Rahul Gandhi,” the minister alleged.
Whatever Rahul Gandhi says is publicised with a “louder voice” by the “same ecosystem”, he said. “The same ecosystem is working in India and outside India. We will not allow this ‘tukde-tukde gang’ to destroy our integrity, our sovereignty,” Rijiju asserted.
The minister said at a recent seminar in Delhi, where some retired Supreme Court judges and some senior lawyers were present, the topic was accountability in judges’ appointment. “But the discussion the whole day was how the government is taking over the judiciary,” he said.
The minister said he shares an excellent relationship with the chief justice of India, the present one, the last one and all the judges of the Supreme Court. “It is a few of the retired judges – maybe three or four – a few of those activists, part of the anti-India gang, these people are trying to make Indian judiciary play the role of the opposition party.
“Some people also go to the court and say please rein in the government, please change the policy of the government. These people want the judiciary to play the role of the opposition party, which cannot happen,” Rijiju said. The judiciary, he asserted, is neutral.
The minister’s remarks were criticised by Congress general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh. “A Law Minister talking like an Outlaw. A Minister of Justice propagating Injustice. If this is not a threat to freedom AFTER speech what is?” Ramesh tweeted.
Rijiju said, “Judges are not part of any group or political affiliation. How can these people openly say that the Indian judiciary must take head-on with the government. What kind of propaganda is this.”
Asked whether any action was being taken against just elements, he said, “Actions will be taken, actions are being taken as per law. Nobody will escape.” On the issue of the appointment of judges, Rijiju said there is no role of the judiciary as such to initiate and to give finalisation to the appointment of judges.
“It was only later due to the misadventure of the Congress party, the Supreme Court started acting, which some people describe as judicial overreach. Then the collegium system came into existence”.
But right now, the position of the government is very clear that the collegium system is in place. “As long as a new system is not introduced, we will follow the collegium system but the appointment of judges cannot be done by a judicial order. It is purely administrative,” he said.
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