A week after the Supreme Court’s unprecedented move to make public its communications with the Center regarding the elevation of judges, Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju has questioned the behavior of the Supreme Court Collegium in making public of “sensitive, secret reports”.
When asked why the Center has problems with the move, which many hailed as a step forward to ensure transparency, Mr Rijiju said the standards of transparency are different. “There are things that should not be disclosed in the national interest, and there are things that should not be kept secret in the public interest,” he told India TV in an interview.
The revelation of the Supreme Court judges’ back and forth with the central government over the appointment of judges, including the objections of intelligence agencies, has sparked unrest at the security establishment, sources told DailyExpertNews.
It has been a practice not to disclose the objections and to maintain the confidentiality of intelligence agencies examining potential candidates for senior judiciary posts – both in the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court. The revelation has caused great concern within the government, which believes it should not have been made public and used.
However, Mr Rijiju declined to comment on suggestions that the Collegium might try to emphasize that the government is not in favor of appointing lawyer Saurabh Kripal as a judge of the Delhi High Court because of his same-sex relationship with a foreigner – a major reveal of the Supreme Court disclosure.
“When I have to speak, I will speak as Justice Minister. We are working in line with the thinking and directives of our respected Prime Minister, but I cannot reveal all of this here,” he said.
Mr Rijiju went on to say that he cannot discuss the process of appointing judges as it is a ‘sensitive issue’, but stressed that the government is “making an informed decision carefully and following a policy”.
“Neither from the government nor from the judiciary, such matters should be placed in the public domain,” he said.
Asked about allegations that the judiciary was under attack, Mr Rijiju said they never tried to curtail or defame her rights, but were forced to respond because the Supreme Court’s comments sent a “wrong message” to the people sent.
“Can you tell me one example in the last eight and a half years of Modi ji’s rule, when we tried to curtail or defame the rights of the judiciary? Whatever I said about the judiciary was just a response… “When it was said from the Supreme Court court that the government is in files, then in a democracy it is necessary for me to answer. Normally we are not in files, but we follow the process as required. The courts must realize that they cannot say anything that sends the wrong message to the people,” said the justice minister.
Mr Rijiju reiterated that he has never attacked the judiciary and said what he had to say “in a correct manner”. This should not be taken as an attack, he said.
However, Mr Rijiju pointed out a line that should not be crossed in the national interest.
“We all respect the judiciary, and if Indian democracy is strong, the main reason is that our judiciary structure is strong and robust. That is why we say we will not interfere in the work of the judiciary, and the judiciary should not interfere with work of executive and legislature. A ‘laxman rekha’ (dividing line) has been drawn between them. We have removed this from our constitution. It will be in the interest of the nation if neither party does that’ laxman rekha’,” he said.
On his recent comment that judges do not have to contest elections or be publicly scrutinized, but that they are in the public eye through their actions, their judgments, he said it was in the context of “thousands” of encounters with him and write to him saying judges must be accountable.
“Some say there must be accountability, since it is a democracy, and there can be no king in a democracy. I want to tell them that the people are the final arbiter in a democracy, and the constitution is our sacred book. We rule according to the constitution. That’s why I said that since judges don’t have to participate in elections, they are appointed, they have to make sure their job is good because the people are watching,” he said.
The government has pushed for a greater role in the appointment of judges, which since 1993 has been the domain of the Supreme Court’s panel or panel of supreme judges. the Supreme Court takes the law minister head-on.
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