Kiren Rijiju
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju (File image)

New Delhi:  Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday sent a subtle warning to retired judges, saying that ‘anyone against the nation will have to pay.’

“It is a few of the retired judges — maybe three or four — a few of those activists, part of the anti-India gang – these people are trying to make Indian judiciary play the role of the opposition party…No one will escape and those who turn against the nation will have to pay,”  Rijiju said at the India Today Conclave in New Delhi.

Targeting the retired judges, the Law minister said, “Some people also go to the court and say please rein in the government, please change the policy of the government . These people want the judiciary to play the role of the opposition party, which cannot happen.”

He again criticised the collegium system to appoint judges, saying it is a result of the ‘misadventure’ of the Congress party.

“Judges are not part of any group or political affiliation. How can these people openly say that the Indian judiciary must take head-on with the government. What kind of propaganda is this,” he wondered.

On the issue of the appointment of judges, Rijiju said there is no role of the judiciary as such to initiate and to give finalisation to the appointment of judges.

“It was only later due to the misadventure of the Congress party, the Supreme Court started acting, which some people describe as judicial overreach. Then the collegium system came into existence.”

Rijiju has been quite vocal against the Collegium system and once even called it ‘alien to our Constitution’.

The Law Minister also invoked the constitutional “Lakshman Rekha” guiding different institutions, including the executive and the judiciary, and wondered if judges become part of administrative appointments, who would carry out judicial work.

Rijiju was responding to a question on a Supreme Court bench directing the government to set up a panel comprising the prime minister, the chief justice of India and the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha to select the chief election commissioner (CEC) and election commissioners till a law is in place for the same.

“The appointment of election commissioners is prescribed in the Constitution. Parliament has to enact a law. Accordingly, the appointment has to be done. I agree that there is no enactment for that in Parliament, there is a vacuum,” the minister said.

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