The irresponsible comments by Union Law Minister Kiren Rizizu on the retired judges in the country calling them as part of anti-national gang at the India Today conclave, is shocking, to say the least. Warning that the judges who are critical of the government will have to pay a price is unbecoming of a minister. He has been talking about judiciary and judges, past and present, as he liked with a streak of arrogance that is unexpected of a minister of his calibre.
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said on the same day, Saturday, at the same venue, India Today conclave, that he would not enter into a dialogue with the law minister. Both of them have different perceptions and each of them respect the perception of the other. Justice Chandrachud said there is no pressure from the government and the judiciary has been calling the government to account for its omissions and commissions. In his 23 years of judgeship, at High Court and the Supreme Court, he never felt pressurized. It is other way of telling the government that it can do or say whatever it wishes but he could not care less. He said with all the limitations, the Collegium is the best system evolved so far and available to the judiciary, the CJI said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also had spoken at the conclave although he did not field any questions. He said he would run his shop himself. He said criticism of Indian democracy is like “Kaala teeka.”
Law minister Rezizu does not understand the process of judicial review which is provided by the Constitution. It is the duty of the judiciary to critically evaluate the constitutionality of the decisions taken by the executive. The judiciary cannot be clubbed with political opposition. The courts are performing their duty when they adjudicate the actions of the executive. The courts are counter-majoritarian institutions. They are there to protect the Constitutional rights of the people.
It is quite obvious that law minister has been indulging in his tirade against judiciary with the express permission and encouragement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Had it not been the case, the minister would have been warned long ago when he made scathing attack on judiciary for the first time. If the union government is keen on doing away with Collegium system, it can make a legislation to bring about Judicial Appointments Authority for the appointment of judges. Justice Venkatachalaiah Committee report is there. Justice Nariman had suggested only that the judiciary may have at least one vote more than the rest in the body. The Modi government has majority both in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. What is the point in harping on the issue without making a legislation? The government would like to keep the judiciary guessing making it more and more unpopular. Have we ever heard of justices being trolled? CJI Chandrachud has received more than a million trolls for his comments on Maharashtra government and Governor. This is one way of harassing the judiciary. Who are at the back of the campaign is a public secret. Allowing the party cadres to indulge in this kind of mudthrowing, Prime Minister Modi claims that democracy in the country is at its peak of health.
The investigative agencies are abused. Lalu Prasad Yadav who underwent kidney transplantation only a few months ago and who was advised by the doctors to avoid meeting people at least for six months and be careful for one year, was interrogated for ten hours. He is the only person, besides the Congress leaders, who refused to do business with the BJP. The case in which he was interrogated by the agency belonged to 2008. The investigative agencies have no time for Adani who has been accused of swindling thousands of crores of rupees by manipulating stock market and running fake organizations but they have all the time in the world to harass Lalu Prasad and members of his family.