Former Law Minister Kiren Rijiju stepped over the line in his rhetorical attacks on the judiciary
In his nearly two years as union law minister, Kiren Rijiju fought with the judiciary on several occasions, including the appointment of judges and the issue of pendency, for nearly six of those tumultuous months.
Earned the title of “Messiah”
He has tirelessly fought to increase the executive’s influence over judicial appointments during this time, earning the title of “messiah” among those who oppose the current collegium system.
Arjun Ram Meghwal took Rijiju place
Rijiju took office as the law minister in July 2021 but was replaced by Arjun Ram Meghwal. He resigned as one of the most divisive ministers to hold this position ever as a result of his vehement rhetoric against the Supreme Court collegium and judicial overreach.
Rijiju: The populace is dissatisfied with the Collegium system
Rijiju focused his undivided attention on the Supreme Court while serving as the law minister. Rijiju argued in favor of an internal system to control judicial activism.
Rijiju expressed concerns about judicial activism and argued in favor of an internal mechanism to maintain the judiciary’s constitutional bounds. He also voiced his disapproval of the collegium system and anger over the Supreme Court’s decision to retain the contentious Sedition Law’s suspension.
The Supreme Court responds to Rijiju’s criticism that the collegium system has adequate checks and balances
Retired judges, attorneys, legal experts, and opposition members all criticized Rijiju for his remarks regarding the collegium system. The former law minister responded within a month after the top court issued an order criticizing the Centre for delaying judicial appointments.
Rijiju reaffirmed at the Times Now Summit that the collegium system was “alien” to the Indian Constitution and that the government could not be expected to sign the collegium’s recommendations in silence.
On the types of cases, the Supreme Court should hear, the CJI and the law minister are at odds
The former Union Minister of Law and Justice expressed his dislike for the Supreme Court’s decision-making process regarding bail requests and “frivolous” public interest litigation petitions. No matter how big or small the case, the Supreme Court will hear it, according to Chief Justice Chandrachud. Rijiju shared a video interview with a retired high court judge who claimed that the supreme court had “hijacked” the Constitution by assuming control over who would be appointed to sit on the higher courts.
He also criticized the collegium system, claiming that only those who disregarded the Constitution’s provisions and the people’s mandate believed they were above the Constitution of India.
Judges should not be subject to elections, according to Rijiju, who also demands a government representative on the selection committee
In a speech at a gathering sponsored by Delhi’s Tis Hazari Bar not long after, Rijiju raised the subject of judges’ accountability. He said, “Judges should not be subject to elections, according to Rijiju, who also demands a government representative on the selection committee.”
“The rumor that I (the former law minister) wrote Chief Justice Chandrachud a letter urging for the inclusion of a government representative in the collegium was untrue,” the former minister of law stated. Two weeks later, the parliamentarian disclosed that the government had requested that its representative be included on the search and evaluation committee for the appointment of judges.
Rijiju: Some retired judges are ‘anti-India.’ They are attempting to transform the judiciary into an opposition party
Another development was when Rijiju said, “Judicial independence does not imply that it is anti-government,” at the Central Government Law Officers’ Conference in Bhubaneshwar. He claimed that some people in a society supposedly wanted the judiciary to act as an “opposition party.”
Rijiju opposes SC’s disclosure of the government’s reasons for collegium recommendations
The law minister has also voiced his displeasure with the top court’s decision to disclose the justifications for the government’s rejection of some candidates (such as lawyer Saurabh Kirpal, who is likely to become the first openly gay judge in India).
Lakshman Rekha must be upheld at all costs, says Rijiju
Judicial independence cannot be viewed in isolation, and neither the legislative branch nor the executive branch should attempt to overstep the Lakshman Rekha, according to Rijiju.
Both vice president Jagdeep Dhankar and Union Minister Rijiju have questioned the collegium system’s fundamental structure doctrine, which has been the subject of judicial review.