“There are a few retired judges, may be three or four activists, who are part of the anti-India gang,” said the law minister. “Some people even go to court and say that ‘please rein in the government’,” he said.
Speaking at the India Today Conclave, the minister took exception to the members of the Supreme Court collegium making public the report of intelligence agencies about an advocate, Saurabh Kirpal, whose appointment as a judge of the Delhi high court was recommended by the collegium but opposed by the central government on the ground that his same-sex partner is a foreign national with a history of activism in India.
“If a name comes to me for a Supreme Court judge or high court judge, there are numerous complaints that invariably come attached with it. So, will I make it public?” the minister said.
‘Executive, judiciary must respect Lakshman rekha’
If a judge has written an adverse comment against any other judge, I am not supposed to make it public. There has to be some probity in public life, some discipline, some sensible attitude by the people who sit in responsible positions,” Rijiju said. The minister said that the executive and judiciary should not undermine the “Lakshman rekha” that restrains them from stepping into each other’s domain.
Saying that he has been getting a lot of feedback on how to ensure accountability of judges, he said: “Many people have suggested that along with the National Judicial Appointments Commissionthere should also be a National Judicial Commission to regulate the conduct and process of how courts are maintained, ruled and judges’ conduct. We all are accountable.”
The minister also accused Congress MP Rahul Gandhi of seeking to undermine the independence of the judiciary by joining hands with the “anti-India” cabal to create a perception that the government is trying to control it.
“Rahul Gandhi or anybody, if they say that the Indian judiciary has been hijacked, or that democracy is over in the country… the judiciary is dead, what does it mean? There is a calibrated effort to undermine the intent of the judiciary,” Rijiju said. “In a way it is a sinister design,” the minister said, “to be propagating that the judiciary has been hijacked by the government. Our judges are not weak, the Indian judiciary is not weak.” Rijiju said there are “anti-India forces” which have been running this constant campaign both within and outside the country. “They use the same language that democracy is in danger, human rights are non-existent,” he added.
He said the government is aware of where such groups are getting funds from and “many other things”. “Who are the people who organise events in London or elsewhere? Recently there was one seminar in Delhi, some retired Supreme Court judges, some senior lawyers attended it. The topic of the seminar was accountability in judiciary and appointment of judges, but the discussion at the meeting was how the government is taking over the Indian judiciary,” Rijiju said.
On the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioners and election commissioners, the minister said the judiciary should refrain from getting into the executive’s domain. “The appointment of election commissioners is prescribed in the Constitution. Parliament has to enact a law,” he said.
“But if the CJI or judges sit on every important appointment, who will carry forward the judiciary’s work? There are so many administrative matters in the country. So, we have to see that judges are primarily there to deliver judicial work,” he said.