Kiren Rijiju questions SC Collegium's conduct for publicizing 'secret reports'
Union Law and Justice Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, Kiren Rijiju, has questioned the Supreme Court Collegium's conduct over publishing sensitive and secret reports in the public domain recently. Rijiju's reaction comes just a week after the apex court's unprecedented decision to make its communication with the central government on judicial appointments public.
Why does this story matter?
- The disclosure of the SC Collegium's back-and-forth with the Centre regarding the appointment of high court judges, including the demurs brought up by the intelligence agencies, has reportedly resulted in disquiet in the security establishment.
- The collegium's move to publish the same on the SC's website also raised significant concerns within the government, which believes such reports shouldn't have been made public, reported NDTV.
Some matters shouldn't be disclosed: Rijiju
Explaining why the government has problems with the SC's move, which many have lauded as a significant step toward ensuring transparency, Rijiju said that transparency standards are different. "There are some matters which should not be disclosed in the national interest, and there are matters which should not be concealed in the public interest," the BJP leader told India TV during an interview.
Practice to maintain confidentiality of intelligence agencies
Traditionally, it has been a practice not to make the government's objections concerning judicial appointments public and to maintain the confidentiality of intelligence agencies that scrutinize prospective candidates for posts in the higher judiciary, including the Supreme Court and high courts.
Appointment process of judges is 'sensitive issue': Rijiju
Rijiju also said that he can't discuss the appointment process for the judges as it is a "sensitive issue," but emphasized that the Centre "takes its considered decision carefully and follows a policy." "Neither from the government nor from the judiciary, such matters should be put in the public domain," the law minister further added.
Rijiju clarifies his response to SC's comments on government
On the allegations that the judiciary was under attack, Rijiju claimed the Centre never attempted to showcase the judiciary negatively, but was forced to respond due to the SC's comments sending a "wrong message." "When it was said from the Supreme Court bench that the government is sitting on files, then, in a democracy, it becomes necessary for me to reply," he said.
Ex-SC judge slams Rijiju for 'diatribe' against collegium
Separately, former SC judge Rohinton Fali Nariman has denounced Rijiju for his "diatribe" against the SC Collegium. Nariman also labeled the Centre's move to sit on the collegium-recommended judges' names as "deadly" for democracy, reported India TV. The former judge further highlighted that in case the "last bastion" of independent judiciary falls, the country would then enter the "abyss of a new dark age."
SC Collegium v/s Centre: What is it about?
The Union government has been pushing for a more significant role in the appointment process of the judges, which has long been under the top court's collegium or a panel of most senior judges since 1993. The problem has, however, spiraled with the Supreme Court resisting the government's move, even with former judges of the apex court taking on Rijiju over the matter.