Union law minister Kiren Rijiju — one of the key speakers in the government versus judiciary debate — pointed out today that judges do not have to contest elections or face public scrutiny. Still they are under the public eye by way of their actions, their judgments. “The people are watching you and judging you. Your judgments, your work process, how you dispense justice… The people can see, and assess… They form opinions,” he said to great applause at an event of the Delhi Bar Association.
He also reminded his audience that with the advent of the social media, the people now have the power to speak. It is not like the old days, when there was no platform and only “netalog (leaders)” could speak.
In this context, he said the Chief Justice had sought his help about the abuse judges face on social media. “How to control that? Now, judges cannot respond to it o social media. The government was requested to take a firm step… I have taken note of it and have the solution,” he added.
There have been many changes since 1947, so it would be wrong to think that the existing system will carry on and it would never be questioned, Mr Rijiju said. It is the changing situation which dictates the need and this is why the Constitution had to be amended more than a hundred times, he said.
The government has been seeking a larger role in the appointment of judges, arguing that the legislature is supreme since it represents the will of the people. The Supreme Court has issued a stern reminder to the government that while parliament can make a law, it is within the court’s power to “scrutinise” it.
“Tomorrow, people will say the basic structure is also not a part of Constitution…. If every section of the society starts laying down which law is to be followed and which isn’t, then it will lead to a breakdown,” Justice SK Kaul had said.
Mr Rijiju has repeatedly complained about the lack of transparency in the current Collegium system of appointment – where a panel of the country’s top judges from the Supreme Court pick the names. Yesterday, he had cited a retired judge’s comment on the subject to underscore what he called “sane views” of “the majority”.