Judges don’t face elections or public scrutiny: Law Minister Kiren Rijiju

Addressing an event of the Delhi Bar Association, Rijiju, in Hindi, said: "Every citizen asks questions to the government and questions should be asked.

New Delhi: In the latest, amid the ongoing row between Centre and judiciary over appointment of judges, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday said judges do not contest elections or face public scrutiny.

Addressing an event of the Delhi Bar Association, Rijiju, in Hindi, said: “Every citizen asks questions to the government and questions should be asked. If the public would not ask questions to the elected government, then who would they ask questions to… we do not step away from questions, we face it because we are elected representatives.”

Rijiju said he had participated in many events which include Supreme Court Chief Justice and Supreme Court judges and high courts, even there he had emphasised that today he is working as Law Minister but tomorrow if people do not elect his government, then they would sit in the Opposition, and they will question the ruling government.

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“But, when a judge becomes a judge, he does not have to face an election. There is also no public scrutiny for judges. That is why I say, people do not elect judges and this is why the public cannot change judges. But people are watching you. Your judgment and the working of judges and the way judges dispense justice, people are watching it and assess… They form opinions. In the age of social media, nothing can be hidden,” he said to loud applause.

He further added that the Chief Justice had sought his help in connection with the abuse judges face on social media. “How to control that? Now, judges cannot respond to it on social media. The government was requested to take a firm step… I have taken note of it,” he added.

Rijiju has been vocal in the criticism of the collegium system for appointment of judges, and even termed it alien to the Constitution. The Central government is seeking to have a larger role in the appointment of judges.

The Law Minister on Sunday cited comments by a retired high court judge, saying the Supreme Court “hijacked” the Constitution by deciding to appoint judges itself – and said he considered the former judge’s view “sane”. The Law Minister said the majority of the people have similar sane views.A

Sharing the interview of justice R S Sodhi (retd), a former judge of the Delhi High Court, Rijiju tweeted: “Voice of a judge…Real beauty of Indian Democracy is- it’s success. People rule themselves through their representatives. Elected representatives represent the interests of the people & make laws. Our Judiciary is independent and our Constitution is Supreme”.

In an interview, Justice Sodhi (retd) said the right to frame laws lies with the Parliament and added that the Supreme Court cannot frame laws as it does not have the right to do so. Sodhi, speaking in Hindi, said: “Whether you can amend the Constitution? Only Parliament will amend the Constitution. But here I feel the Supreme Court for the first time ‘hijacked’ the Constitution.”

He further added that after the ‘hijacking’, they (the apex court) said that we will appoint (judges) ourselves and the government will have no role in it. Sodhi said high courts are not subservient to the Supreme Court but high court judges start looking at the Supreme Court and become subservient.

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