Kiren Rijiju endorses former High Court judge’s view that Supreme Court ‘hijacked’ the Constitution

In a separate tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauds Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud for advocating the use of regional language

January 22, 2023 04:54 pm | Updated 11:48 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. File

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju. File | Photo Credit: PTI

In a sign of escalating tension between the Executive and the Judiciary, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday claimed that the majority of people have “sane views”, similar to the one expressed by a retired High Court judge, who said the Supreme Court has “hijacked” the Constitution by deciding to appoint judges itself.

Mr. Rijiju took to Twitter to share a video interview of former judge of the Delhi Court, Justice R.S. Sodhi, and called it the “voice of a judge”.

In the interview, Justice Sodhi also said the top court cannot frame laws as it does not have the right to do so.

“...Only Parliament will amend Constitution. But here I feel the Supreme Court for the first time ‘hijacked’ the Constitution. After ‘hijacking’ they [the SC] said that we will appoint [judges] ourselves and the government will have no role in it,” Justice Sodhi said in Hindi.

Endorsing such a view, Mr. Rijiju tweeted: “Actually majority of the people have similar sane views. It’s only those people who disregard the provisions of the Constitution and mandate of the people think that they are above the Constitution of India.”

In another tweet, the Law Minister said: “Voice of a Judge….Real beauty of Indian Democracy is- its success. People rule themselves through their representatives. Elected representatives represent the interests of the People & make laws. Our Judiciary is independent and our Constitution is Supreme.”

Mr. Rijiju’s comments are the latest in an ongoing tussle between the government and the Supreme Court Collegium over judicial appointments.

On January 20, the Supreme Court Collegium took the unprecedented step of making public the government’s objection to some of its recommendations for judgeship. These names included Saurabh Kirpal (Delhi High Court), whose gay status was objected to; Somasekhar Sundaresan (Bombay High Court) and John Sathyan (Madras High Court), who shared social media posts that were critical of the Narendra Modi government.

Rejecting the Law Ministry’s objections, the Collegium reiterated five of its earlier recommendations, including the ones cited above, and urged the government to expeditiously clear their appointments.

However, hours after the Law Minister’s tweets, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter on Sunday to laud the Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud for advocating the use of regional languages, and technology, in courts.

“At a recent function, the Hon’ble CJI Justice DY Chandrachud spoke of the need to work towards making SC judgments available in regional languages. He also suggested the use of technology for it. This is a laudatory thought, which will help many people, particularly youngsters,” Mr. Modi tweeted.

“India has several languages, which add to our cultural vibrancy. The Central Government is undertaking numerous efforts to encourage Indian languages including giving the option of studying subjects like engineering and medicine in one’s Matru Bhasha,” the PM added.

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