India

A fit candidate should be appointed, not someone who is known to the Collegium: Law Minister Rijiju

On Friday, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju described the current collegium system for appointing judges as “opaque”.

In his view, the “fittest” persons should be appointed judges rather than those known to the collegium.

During the India Today conclave, the Union minister spoke on ‘Reforming the Judiciary.

“I have no criticism of the judiciary or the judges… I am dissatisfied with the current system of the Supreme Court collegium. There is no perfect system. The minister stated, “We must strive and work towards a better system at all times.”.

According to him, the system must be accountable and transparent. If it is opaque, who else would speak up against it other than the concerned minister? He was only “reflecting the thinking” of many, including the legal community and even some judges.

“The fundamental problem with the current collegium system is that judges recommend colleagues with whom they are familiar. Of course, they would not recommend a judge they do not know,” Rijiju asserted.

According to the minister, the fittest must be appointed rather than someone known to the collegium.

When asked how the process would differ if the government were involved, Rijiju responded that the government has an independent mechanism for gathering information and carrying out due diligence.

Before making a decision, the government relies on the intelligence bureau and several other reports. It is not available to the judiciary or the judges,” he stated.

According to the law minister, governments are responsible for appointing judges around the world.

Due to this, there is also political interference in the judiciary. “They (judges) may not show it, but intense politics is going on,” Rijiju added.

In response to his question, the judge asked, “Should judges be trapped in such administrative work, or should they spend more time dispensing justice?”.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision to reject the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, Rijiju stated that the government had not yet spoken.

“When it was struck down, the government could have taken action…but it chose not to do so because it respects the judiciary. But that does not mean we will remain silent forever,” he stated.

As a result, the Narendra Modi government has not taken any steps to undermine the independence of the judiciary.

“However, the judiciary should not assume the role of the executive. Judges’ oral comments are widely reported even when they have no bearing on the case (in any way). Rijiju stated that judges should speak through their orders rather than make unnecessary comments and invite criticism.

Rijiju expressed concern about the large number of cases filed in courts throughout the country, saying most of them could be resolved outside the courts.

The mediation bill is being introduced, and I hope it will be passed during the upcoming winter session. According to him, mediation can be used to resolve many cases.

According to the law minister, lawyers should be able to argue in the language they are comfortable with to make the courts more accessible to a broader range of people.

“We have the necessary technology to translate. “This should be used,” he stated.

Rijiju was extremely upset when the Supreme Court struck down the sedition law despite the government indicating that it was reviewing the law.

When the government had already stated that the law and its provisions were old, the Supreme Court struck it down. Rijiju said, “Everyone has a Lakshman Rekha they should not cross.”.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in May this year, all pending criminal trials and court proceedings under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code were suspended.

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