As Law Minister, Kiren Rijiju took potshots at Indian judiciary 

Kiren Rijiju slammed the Supreme Court Collegium system as opaque and not accountable during his tenure as the Union Law Minister

May 18, 2023 08:52 pm | Updated 10:30 pm IST - MUMBAI

Kiren Rijiju criticised the country’s top court several times. File

Kiren Rijiju criticised the country’s top court several times. File | Photo Credit: PTI

During his eventful tenure of almost two years as Law Minister, Kiren Rijiju made several digs at top judges and the Indian judiciary itself. On May 18, he was replaced by Arjun Meghwal, the current Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs.

Mr. Rijiju criticised the country’s top court several times. On November 4, 2022, he said, “The Supreme Court’s Collegium system of appointing judges is opaque and not accountable.” He added that he “had to work with the present system until the government came up with an alternative mechanism.”

Earlier this year, around 90 former bureaucrats wrote an open letter to Mr. Rijiju, slamming his comments on the collegium system, the appointment of judges and the independence of the judiciary, saying that they constituted a concerted attack on the system.

On December 14, 2022, Mr. Rijiju said, “The Supreme Court should not be hearing bail pleas and frivolous PILs [or public interest litigations] amid soaring pendency of cases”, terming it as “pathetic and absurd”.

Mr. Rijiju defended the Centre’s stand in the case on same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court, saying that the government was “not interfering into personal lives of anybody”.

In a September 2022 episode of The Hindu’s weekly podcast, retired Supreme Court judge Justice B.N. Srikrishna had said, “Today, things are very bad. I must confess, if I were to stand in a public square and say I don’t like the face of the Prime Minister, somebody might raid me, arrest me, throw me in jail without giving me any reason.”

The next day, Mr. Rijiju criticised Justice Srikrishna, saying, “Those people who speak all the time without any restrictions to abuse the popularly elected Prime Minister are crying about freedom of expression!”

At an event organised by the Delhi Bar Association in January 2023, Mr. Rijiju attacked the judiciary and said, “A judge becomes a judge once, so he doesn’t have to face an election again. 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 the Indian judiciary play the role of the Opposition party.”

In March 2023, he had again remarked, “Some retired judges and activists are a part of the anti-India gang and are trying to make the Indian judiciary play the role of the Opposition party.”

Earlier in May 2023, speaking at the inauguration of an E-Filing and Facility Centre, Mr. Rijiju said, “I know of lawyers who have studied from Harvard and Oxford Universities and charge exorbitant amounts of money only because they speak in English.”

Recently, the Supreme Court dismissed a PIL seeking action against Mr. Rijiju for “making derogatory, insulting and objectionable utterances showing their lack of faith in the Constitution of India and the Judiciary established by law.”

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