Kiren Rijiju, Union Justice Minister October 17 participated in the ‘Sabarmati Samwadprogram organized by Panchjanyaa weekly magazine Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)where he spoke on various issues concerning the Supreme Court, the collegiate system, the functioning of the judiciary, etc.
Emphasizing the need for the three wings of government (Executive, Legislative and Judiciary) to work in their predefined area in accordance with the Constitution, Union Law Minister Rijiju said that when the judiciary veers off course there is no course correction mechanism and this raises concerns about judicial activism.
He suggested that the judiciary should set up its own internal mechanism, as it exists for Parliament (ethics committee), to deal with issues related to the behavior and decision of judges. He also said that the government does not want to establish rules/regulations controlling the behavior of judges.
“When there is no mechanism to keep the judiciary within its bounds, questions about judicial activism arise,” he said.
Further, he said that in the past 8 years the executive has not interfered in the functioning of the judiciary in any way, otherwise even the executive could have been accused of doing executive activism. The justice minister made the remark in response to a question posed by Panchjanya editor Hitesh Sonkar.
In this regard, he also said that during Indira Gandhi’s tenure as Prime Minister of India, 3 judges were replaced to make someone the CJI, however, he added, his government did no such thing.
“Under the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in the past 8 years, we have done nothing that undermines the authority of the judiciary. We have not challenged the judiciary in the last 8 years. We created the NJAC [The National Judicial Appointments Commission]which was challenged in the Supreme Court and struck down as unconstitutional, we could have taken action…“, he remarked.
With regard to the oral submissions made by the judges during the hearings, the Minister of Justice stated that he was of the opinion that such submissions should not be made and that if the judges have to make such submissions in order to to enlighten their thinking, they must incorporate the same into their orders.
“Many judges make comments that the same thing is not part of the order. Whenever I engage in a conversation with the judges, I tell them frankly if they have to say something, then they have to say it by writing the same in their orders, as the same would be preferable, rather than making oral observations”
He also said that sometimes Judges do not understand the practical difficulties in enforcing a Court order, in this regard he made the following remark:
“I’ll give you a little example, let’s say a judge says to remove the trash from a specific location and move it to another location, make certain appointments in 10 days…that’s the job of the executive, being a judge you don’t know the practical difficulties, the financial conditions. As Uttar Pradesh Judge (Allahabad High Court) ordered the state government to provide medicines, ambulances, oxygen and COVID facilities to all district hospitals for these many days …But the country has its own limitations/capacities….It would be better for people/institutions to focus on the responsibilities given to them.”
Essentially, the Minister of Justice was referring to Allahabad High Court‘s the order passed during the second wave of COVID to upgrade medical facilities in the state of Uttar Pradesh on a wartime scale footing.
Furthermore, Minister of Justice Rijiju also told the audience that whenever he meets the judges he asks them to be vigilant as with the advent of live streaming of court proceedings, now they are judged by the people because they are constantly in the public eye. .
Regarding the appointment of judges through the collegiate system, he called the whole mechanism “opaque” as he felt that the appointment of judges is the work of the government and not the judiciary.
“Nowhere in the world do judges appoint judges. People can see the politics among the leaders, but they don’t know the politics going on within the judiciary when appointing judges because the deliberations are intense. Half of the judges’ time is devoted to deliberating on the person to be appointed judge. If judges are involved in the appointment of judges, they cannot be immune to criticism. When selecting judges, it’s only natural that you recommend people you know. The judges (write to me) too…when they send comments on the recommended ones, they say…I know him, he comes before me, his character is good, I am happy with his work, etc. .Now when you have entered the executive process, it is only natural that you recommend only those who you know, who are related to your family, who are close to you.”
He added that such allegations [‘Uncle Judge Syndrome’] arise when judges are involved in the appointment of other judges. Prior to 1993, no judge was criticized for judicial appointments because they were not part of the process, alluding to the Second Justices case, in which the Supreme Court defined “consultation” as “the approval of the CJI. [as appearing in Article 124(2) of the Constitution of India]
Read more about his comments here: People are not happy with the collegiate system, the appointment of judges is the government’s job: Kiren Rijiju, Union Law Minister
Regarding the use of Indian languages in court, the Minister of Justice was of the opinion that as Indians we should all have the right to use Indian languages in court. He said that in many high courts people now have the right to use Hindi language and in other high courts also people should have the right to use Indian language.
He also said that in the next few days, in the Supreme Court as well, there may be an option to speak in Indian languages. He also pointed out that in the Supreme Court, there are 40 to 50 such lawyers who monopolize the Court, use “heavyweight” English words and even threaten the presiding justices.