It is up to the government to appoint the judges, says Kiren Rijiju

Justice minister says there is no mechanism to check the judiciary if it goes astray

Justice minister says there is no mechanism to check the judiciary if it goes astray

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has said the appointment of judges is the domain of the executive which should be done in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), but the Supreme Court has expanded the meaning of “consultation to assent”.

The Minister made the remarks on Monday while speaking to Sabarmati Samvad organized by Panchjanya, a weekly magazine published by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In a pointed observation, Mr Rijiju said that half the time judges are “preoccupied” with deciding appointments and as a result their primary job of dispensing justice “suffers”.

“Until 1993, every judge in India was appointed by the Ministry of Justice in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. We had very eminent judges at the time,” Mr. Rijiju said.

“The Constitution is clear on this. He says the President of India will appoint the judges, which means the Ministry of Justice will appoint the judges in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. In 1993, the Supreme Court defined consultation as an agreement. In no other area has consultation been defined as agreement except in judicial appointments,” he noted, adding that the collegium system was extended by the judiciary in 1998.

The Supreme Court Collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four senior judges of the highest court.

“Second thing, nowhere in the world except India is there a practice that judges appoint their brothers as judges. Thirdly, as Minister of Justice, I have observed that half the time and the minds of judges are preoccupied with the decision of who will be the next judge. Their main job is to deliver justice, who suffers from this practice,” he said.

He noted that the consultation process for the selection of judges is so intense that groupism develops there.

“People can see the politics among the leaders but they don’t know the politics that is going on within the justice system,” he added.

Speaking of judicial activism, the Minister indicated that many judges make observations during the investigation of a case that are not part of their written judgments.

“During my consultations with them, I asked them to refrain, especially during the live broadcast of court proceedings. They are judged by the people,” the minister said.

Noting that the executive and the legislature are linked and regulated by the judiciary, he said, “but if the judiciary goes astray, there is no mechanism to control it.”

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