Law Minister scoffs at criticism over the appointment of a retired Supreme Court judge as a Governor

The Congress had said the appointment of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer as Governor of Andhra Pradesh is a ‘threat’ to the independence of the judiciary

February 13, 2023 10:33 pm | Updated 10:33 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju | File Photo

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

Responding to the Congress’ sharp attack on the Narendra Modi government for appointing retired Supreme Court judge Justice S. Abdul Nazeer as the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday said the “whole ecosystem is once again in full swing”.

With naming anyone, the Law Minister said they should better understand that they can no longer treat India as their “personal fiefdom”. He tweeted: “The Whole Eco-system is once again in full swing on the appointment of a Governor. They should better understand that, they can no more treat India as their personal fiefdom. Now, India will be guided by the people of India as per the provisions of the Constitution of India.”

On Sunday, Justice Nazeer was among the six new faces, including four Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, who were appointed as Governors.

The former Supreme Court judge, who retired in January, was part of the five-judge Bench that delivered the Ayodhya verdict; he also headed a five-judge Constitution Bench that upheld the November 2016 demonestisation decision in a 4:1 verdict in January.

Attacking the government over Justice Nazeer’s appointment, the Congress had called the move a “threat” to the independence of the judiciary.

“This issue is not about individuals but about principles. As a matter of fact, the person in question is a very fine person and a good judge. But it affects the independence of the judiciary that is a part of the basic structure of the Constitution,” senior Supreme Court advocate and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told The Hindu.

Mr. Singhvi said that judges “associated with cases for high political and sensational content” have been appointed to political posts. Arguing for a law that would bar such appointments, he said, “The perception of post-retirement expectations affecting pre-retirement performance is fatal to an independent judiciary and everything must be done to prevent this.”

On Sunday, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh shared a 2012 comment by the late BJP Union Minister Arun Jaitley in which he had said “pre-retirement judgments are influenced by the desire of a post-retirement job” on his Twitter handle.

“Adequate proof of this in the past 3-4 years for sure,” Mr. Ramesh added.

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