Executive and judiciary like brothers, should not fight each other: Rijiju

NewsDrum Desk
25 Nov 2022

New Delhi, Nov 25 (PTI) Amid frequent run-ins between the government and the judiciary, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday pitched for fraternal ties between the two pillars of democracy, saying they are like brothers and should not fight each other.

He said the central government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has never undermined the authority of the judiciary and will always ensure its independence remains untouched and is promoted.

"We are offspring of the same parent.. hum bhai-bhai hain. Aapas me ladna-jhagadna theek nahi hai. Hum sab milkar kaam karenge aur desh ko mazboot banaenge. (We are brothers. It is not right to fight with each other. We will work together to strengthen the nation),” he said speaking at an event held on the Supreme Court lawns on the eve of Constitution Day.

The government of India will always support and strengthen the Indian judiciary, he said, adding the two should work in cohesion and guide each other.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Vikas Singh, spoke about the "apparent conflict” between the two wings as demonstrated in the recommendations of the Supreme Court collegium not been honoured by the government.

While the senior lawyer asserted that the present collegium system has to be made “more credible” until a better system is put in place, he said, the Centre “cannot be seen violating the rule of the law” with respect to appointment of judges.

The event, which was held by the SCBA to celebrate the Constitution Day, was attended by the Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud, Attorney General R Venkataramani, judges of the top court as well as members of the Bar.

Since 2015, November 26 is observed as Constitution Day to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of India by the Constituent Assembly in 1949. Earlier, the day was observed as Law Day.

In his address, the minister noted India is a thriving democracy, and to make an institution successful, it must be ensured that people in the system are given due credit and recognition.

“If leader becomes weak, country becomes weak. If CJI is made weak and vulnerable, it is also amounting to weakening of Supreme Court itself. If Supreme Court becomes weak, it amounts to weakening Indian judiciary,” he said.

The minister added instability weakens a country and the prime minister is the elected leader of the country. "The country's image is enhanced when he is respected," he said.

Rijiju said he was committed to abiding by the spirit of the Constitution in the true sense and also improving the judicial infrastructure.

“I can assure you in our government, under the leadership of PM Modi, in the last eight and a half years, we have not done anything to undermine the authority of the Indian judiciary. It is going very well and amount of coordination and cooperation that the Indian judiciary is having, it is paying dividends,” he asserted.

On policy matters, he said, the government will always be there to support and strengthen the Indian judiciary and ensure its "independence is untouched and is also promoted".

SCBA president Singh said the Centre cannot “pick and choose” when the top court collegium recommends names for appointment as judges and urged the law minister to ensure there is no “negation” of its recommendations.

Claiming it was “unfortunate” that the government is disobeying the rule of law by not accepting the recommendations that are reiterated, he asserted there should be some uniformity in honouring them.

“There is an apparent conflict which is quite obvious everywhere that names are being recommended and not being appointed. This according to me is a complete negation of rule of law. I beseech the law minister to please ensure that this negation does not happen anymore,” Singh said.

“There should be some uniformity in honouring the recommendation of the collegium. It can't be that the government can start doing pick and choose and saying this one we will go ahead and appoint and the other one we will not,” he added.

At the same time, Singh said, a system has to be introduced to ensure the “best” are chosen as judges in a transparent and fair manner.    “I am not so charitable to say that this system is working the way it was originally conceived to work…. Initially, I had no problem with the collegium system but you have to make it more credible. If government is not ready to bring a law to make the system more credible, the judges have to bring in a system in-house which assures to the nation and the legal community that best are being picked in manner which justifies that entire process is transparent and fair,” he said.

But, until a better system is put in place, “they (government) have to obey the law”, he said.

Attorney General Venkataramani said that the Constitution was a “social justice document” and that there should be a permanent law commission.

Rijiju also said CJI Chandrachud has done a “tremendous job” while heading the top court's e-committee and that the Indian judiciary would achieve new heights under his leadership.

He said he wants to see the Indian judiciary go paperless.

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