During Kiren Rijiju's tenure frequent run-ins between govt and judiciary

Rijjiju's term was controversial -- the government and the judiciary had a series of differences in connection with the appointment of judges

IANS New Delhi
Kiren Rijiju

Kiren Rijiju. Photo: PTI

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In a major cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed Arjun Ram Meghwal as the new Minister of Law and Justice, and moved Kiren Rijiju to Earth Sciences.

Meghwal's appointment has come at a crucial time, when the central government and the Supreme Court have often not been on the same side in connection with the appointment of judges to the higher judiciary.

Rijjiju's term was controversial -- the government and the judiciary had a series of differences in connection with the appointment of judges -- and at a media event, last year, he had said that judges only recommend the appointment or elevation of those they know and not always the fittest person for the job.

Also, in November last year, Rijiju attacked the mechanism to appoint Supreme Court and high court judges, saying the collegium system is "alien" to the Constitution.

In February, the Supreme Court warned the Centre on the delay in clearing the transfer of high court judges recommended by the apex court collegium, saying it may result in both administrative and judicial actions which may not be palatable.

A bench comprising justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay. S. Oka told the Attorney General R Venkataramani, representing the Centre, "Don't make us take a stand which will be very uncomfortable...", and further added that if transfer of judges is kept pending then it is a serious issue.

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Justice Kaul said transfer is a very serious issue and warned against the interference of third parties in the process. He told the AG that sometimes the government does it overnight and sometimes it takes longer and there is no uniformity, and added that even chief justices' transfers are also pending.

The bench orally observed, "We will have to take a difficult decision. Do not make us take a hard stand" and told the AG, who said the court may not record anything as it is happening. Rijiju had stressed that the country would be governed according to the Constitution and the wishes of the people.

In January, Rijiju had said that the Supreme Court collegium publishing inputs of Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) and intelligence bureau (IB) on candidates recommended by the collegium for judgeship, is a serious issue.

Addressing the media at the felicitation of award winners of the e-courts project, Rijiju said that if a person is working for the nation, then he may think one day his R&AW and IB files can be made public. "It is a matter of concern.... It is a serious issue and one day I will speak on this," he said, while responding to a query regarding collegium's recent statements in public domain citing objections raised by the central government to recommendations made regarding the judges' appointment.

In January this year, the apex court collegium published on its website resolutions reiterating names of some advocates for judgeship in various high courts. The apex court cited inputs by R&AW and IB on candidates, whose files were returned by the Centre to the collegium for reconsideration.

In a statement, in connection with appointment of openly gay lawyer Saurabh Kripal as a judge of the Delhi High Court, the collegium said: "From the letters of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) dated 11 April 2019 and 18 March 2021, it appears that there are two objections to the recommendation which was made by the collegium of this courtAon 11 November 2021 approving the name of Saurabh Kirpal namely: (i) the partner of Saurabh Kirpal is a Swiss National, and (ii) he is in an intimate relationship and is open about his sexual orientation".

Reiterating Kripal's name, the collegium said there is no reason to pre-suppose that the partner of the candidate, who is a Swiss National, would be inimically disposed to our country, since the country of his origin is a friendly nation. "Many persons in high positions including present and past holders of constitutional offices have and have had spouses who are foreign nationals", it added.



(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 18 2023 | 2:32 PM IST

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