Kiren Rijiju slammed people who “think that they are above the Constitution”.
The friction between the government and the judiciary over the appointment of judges and which parts of the constitution can be changed by parliament took a sharp turn on Sunday, with Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju citing comments by a former judge to underscore which view he considered “sane”.
“The Supreme Court has hijacked the constitution for the first time. They said we will appoint [judges] ourselves. The government will have no role in this,” retired Delhi High Court judge RS Sodhi said in an interview with LawStreet Bharat YouTube channel.
“High courts are not subservient to the Supreme Court [but] high court judges start looking at the Supreme Court and become subservient,” he said, explaining why he feels that the system of a panel of Supreme Court judges, called the collegium, appointing judges for the high courts and Supreme Courts does not work.
Posting the clip of the interview on his Twitter handle, Mr Rijiju wrote, “Voice of a judge… Real beauty of Indian Democracy is its success. People rule themselves through their representatives. Elected representatives represent the interests of the people and laws. Our judiciary is independent, and our constitution is supreme.”
“Actually, majority of the people have similar sane views. It’s only those people who disregard the provisions of the Constitution and mandate of the people think that they are above the Constitution of India,” he added.
The statement is the latest in a long-running disagreement between the judiciary and the government that has intensified in recent months. From comments by Mr Rijiju to Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, tJudiciary has come under increasing pressure to change the system of judges getting the final word on appointment of judges.
The government has called for a bigger role in judges’ appointment, questioned the lack of its veto power, and criticised the encircling of certain principles of the constitution as its “basic structure”, not open to changes by parliament, by the Supreme Court in 1973.
This week, the Supreme Court took the unprecedented step of making public its communication with the centre on judges’ elevation after stiff resistance from the government over some appointments, including that of a lawyer who could become India’s first openly gay judge.
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