Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday described a few retired judges and some activists as part of an “anti-India gang” and accused them of trying to make the judiciary play the role of Opposition parties.
Mr. Rijiju, who spoke at an event organised by the magazine India Today, criticised the Collegium system and called it a result of “Congress misadventure and judicial overreach”.
The Minister said that 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.
“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,” Mr. Rijiju added.
Asserting that he shared an excellent relationship with the judiciary and that it was neutral, the Law Minister said, “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.”
“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?” asked Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Twitter.
The Minister also invoked the constitutional “Lakshman Rekha” between the executive and the judiciary, asking if judges became part of the administrative process, then who would carry out judicial work.
He was responding to a question on the recent Supreme Court order that asked the government to set up a panel, comprising the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India (CJI) and the Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, to select the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the Election Commissioners until a new law was put in place.
“Suppose you are the Chief Justice or a judge. You are part of an administrative process that will come into question. The matter comes to your court. Can you deliver a judgment on a matter you were part of? The principle of justice itself will be compromised. That is why the Lakshman Rekha is very clear in the Constitution,” he said.