The government is deliberately delaying the appointment of judges to create a “designed schism and a consequent logjam” till people favourable to its “ideological masters” are appointed, the Congress alleged on Tuesday.
The party’s fresh attack comes a day after it said the government was intimidating the judiciary in a bid to totally capture it and alleged that Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s suggestion to restructure the Collegium system is a “poison pill” for the judiciary.
The Narendra Modi government is following a policy of “deliberately withholding Collegium recommendations for months and years” to keep the fate of named judges in limbo, Congress general secretary Randeep Surjewala alleged.
He said this is a “designed attack to avoid accountability by the government and with malintent to capture the judiciary”.
“The prime minister, law minister and other Constitutional authorities are deliberately attacking the integrity and independence of the judiciary by a design. The underlying and obvious purpose is the capture of the judiciary so that the government is not held accountable for its arbitrary acts by the court,” he said on Twitter.
“The idea is to create a designed schism and a consequent logjam bringing the judicial appointments and transfers to a standstill until people favourable to the thinking of the Modi government and its ideological masters find a place in the list of appointees,” Surjewala said and claimed this is an open secret.
The Congress’ attack comes after Law Minister Rijiju wrote to Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud suggesting the inclusion of representatives from the Union and state governments in the Supreme Court and high court collegiums.
The minister backed his suggestion, saying it will help infuse transparency and public accountability in the selection of judges.
Surjewala said according to the law minister himself, six Supreme Court judges’ posts and 333 High Court judges’ posts are vacant as of December 2022.
“Yet, out of 21 names recommended for various high courts, the BJP government has returned 19 to the Collegium for reconsideration. This is despite 10 of the names having been reiterated by the Collegium,” he claimed.
“It is, thus, clear who is responsible for the delays in appointment of judges,” the Congress leader said..
Noting that the current Collegium system needs reform, Surjewala said the “judicial appointments need transparency and fairness that is apparent”.
“However, the open hostility and prejudice of the ruling government should not be permitted to dictate the due process of appointment and transfer of judges,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP said it is time for every Indian to raise their voice, “for silence is a sacrilege when institutional capture is writ large”.
“Need for judicial reforms cannot be a cloak for judicial subjugation at the altar of the Modi government. Stand up and speak for judicial Independence. Satyameva Jayate,” he said in another tweet.
The government and the judiciary have been at loggerheads over the process of appointment of judges to the higher judiciary, with Rijiju publicly making remarks on judicial appointments.
Several Union ministers, Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla have slammed the 2015 scrapping of the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) by the apex court and claimed that the judiciary was encroaching the domain of the legislature.
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