“This is not an argument”: Former SC judge on Law Minister’s statement amid ‘conflict’ between government and judiciary

Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s argument that judges are not accountable in the same way as elected representatives are accountable to the public, has been rejected outright by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Gupta. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, he said, “Such statements weaken the independence and strength of the judiciary.” He also said that the present system exists because the makers of the constitution had envisioned it. Justice Gupta said, in this way we have chosen how our judiciary should be in the constitution. This is in contrast to the US judiciary, where many people are elected at the district level.

Significantly, in the Government vs Judiciary debate, Law Minister Rijiju reiterated that since judges are not elected, they do not face public scrutiny, but people look up to them and judge them for the way they deliver justice. Huh. He said that if democracy has to flourish in India, then it is necessary to have a strong and independent judiciary. Rijiju said that if the Supreme Court has some views and the government has some views and if there is any difference between the two views, “some people present it as if Mahabharata is going on between the government and the judiciary”. It is not so…there is no problem between us.

Justice Gupta said that the collegium system to appoint judges is a process in which the government wants a bigger role, it has never been an election issue. In most of the countries, judges are not elected for the highest courts. “It is not really an argument. It is not an argument in itself that we are elected so we represent the voice of the people…I think it needs to be clarified that the ruling government has There is no strength in numbers to say that they submit to the will of the people.” He said that the government got only 35 percent of the votes polled and if the total voters are counted, this number reduces to 25 percent. Justice Gupta questioned whether the Law Minister’s statement was a result of the collegium’s unprecedented move to make public the government’s reasons for rejecting various names of judges. “They may have been shaken by what the collegium has done,” he said.

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