In sharp and forceful criticism of Union law minister Kiren Rijiju’s statement at the recent India Today Conclave claiming that some retired judges are part of an anti-India gang and suggesting they would have a price to pay, Justice Rekha Sharma, a former Delhi high court judge, has asked: “Is he equating retired judges with Amritpal Singh?” Justice Rekha Sharma went on to say that it was “most unfortunate (to hear) such an expression from the law minister”. She said this was “unnecessary aggression” and “an attempt to gag dissent”.
In a 25-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Justice Rekha Sharma was asked if the minister’s comment that “agencies will take action as per the provision of law … those who have worked against the country will have to pay a price for that” was a threat to the retired judges he called anti-Indian, she forcefully and unequivocally said: “Of course, it is a threat. Of course, I take it as a threat”.
In the interview, Justice Sharma demanded that the law minister must specify the retired judges he is referring to and what it is they have said or done that makes them part of an anti-India gang. She said it was not acceptable to speak in vague terms.
At the end of the interview and again speaking forcefully, Justice Sharma said that there’s a Lakshman Rekha that applies to the minister and the government and that is the constitution of India.
The retired judge also spoke at length about the seminar organised by Prashant Bhushan’s NGO, which Rijiju referred to. The judges who were present at the seminar were former Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit, former Supreme Court judges Madan Lokur and Deepak Gupta and former Delhi high court judge A.P. Shah.
Justice Sharma said nothing that was said at that seminar was anti-national and nothing that happened at that seminar justifies Rijiju calling judges, who were present there as spectators or participants, anti-Indian.
Justice Sharma has also spoken about two other comments made by the law minister. First, that judges are not accountable and, second, that the government has never undermined the Indian judiciary or encroached upon its territory. Watch the interview for a complete understanding of her views.