New Delhi: Union law minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday, March 18, said that there were “three or four” retired judges who are part of an “anti-India” gang, adding that anybody who has worked against the country “will have to pay a price”.
Rijiju, speaking at the India Today Conclave, said that there are a few retired “activist” judges who are trying to make the Indian judiciary play the role of an opposition party. “Some people even go to court and say, ‘Please rein in the government, please change the policy of the government’,” he said.
He also continued his government’s attack on Rahul Gandhi, for the Congress leader’s statements in the UK that the BJP-led Union government is undermining democracy in India. The law minister claimed that Gandhi uses the “same language” as some “anti-India gangs”. This language, he said, is repeated claims that in India, “democracy is in danger” and “human rights are non-existent in India”.
When Gaurav Sawant, the moderator, asked Rijiju if he was alleging that a senior MP of being part of the “tukde tukde gang“, he nodded in agreement. He said the government had insights about foreign funding enabling a “calibrated attack” on India, from outside and within.
He then spoke about a seminar in which judges and senior advocates participated. “The topic of the seminar was ‘Accountability in Judges Appointment’ but the discussion [the] whole day was how [the] government is taking over the Indian judiciary,” he continued.
“It is a few of the retired judges, few – maybe three or four – few of those activist, part of that anti-India gang, these people are trying to make Indian judiciary play role of opposition party. Some people even go to court and say that and please rein in the government, please change the policy of the government.”
“Judiciary is neutral, judges are not part of any group of political affiliation. How can these people openly say that [the] Indian judiciary must take the [government] head on? What kind of propaganda is this?” he asked.
When Sawant asked what measures the government has taken against the “tukde tukde gang”, Rijiju said, “Actions will be taken, actions are being taken as per law. The agencies will take action as per the provisions of the law. Nobody will escape. Don’t worry, nobody will escape. Those who have worked against the country will have to pay a price for that.”
The law minister also discussed various other topics, including the government’s standoff with the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of judges, the recent constitution verdict on the appointment of election commissioners and the government’s view on same-sex marriage.
On the collegium system, Rijiju said that the constitution says the appointment od judges is the duty of the government, i.e., that the President of India will appoint judges of the Supreme Court and high courts in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and chief justices of high court. He said that the constitution has no role for the judiciary to initiate and finalise the appointment of judges. “It was only later, because of the misadventure of the Congress party… the Supreme Court started acting – which some people describe as judicial overreach – that the collegium system came into existence,” he said.
He, however, added that until a new system is put in place, the Union government will follow the collegium system.
On the subject of same-sex marriage, Rijiju said because parliament is the “reflection of people’s vision and people’s choice”, there should be a discussion on how the institution of marriage is governed in the two Houses. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a petition on legalising gay marriage, which the Union government has opposed.
On the recent Supreme Court judgment which held that election commissioners should be appointed on the advice of a committee consisting of the Prime Minister, the leader of the opposition and the CJI, Rijiju said that judges are meant to primarily deliver judicial orders and work.
“If the CJI or judges of India sit on every important appointment, who will carry forward the judicial work?” he asked.