Crime & Justice

Indian government at loggerheads with top court over judge appointments

New Delhi, Jan 24 (EFE).- Indian Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday expressed his displeasure with the Supreme Court of India over the government’s opposition to an openly gay candidate for a judge’s post, amid a growing conflict between the executive and the judiciary.

“Putting secret or sensitive reports of the RAW (top intelligence agency) and the Intelligence Bureau in the public domain is a matter of geat concern,” Rijiju told reporters at a press conference.

The minister’s statement comes after last week the Supreme Court of India confirmed the candidature of an openly homosexual lawyer for the post of a judge in the Delhi High Court.

While backing the candidature, the Supreme Court said that the Indian government had questioned the impartiality of the candidate on the basis of intelligence reports over his “passionate” involvement in defending LGBT rights and for “openly” professing his sexual orientation.

However, the minister’s remarks also come amid a series of statements by the government against the top court and its process of appointing judges to the higher judiciary, which is being seen as a conflict between the two institutions.

Earlier this month, Rijiju had “suggested” in a letter to Chief Justice DY Chandrachud that the process of selecting judges for the top court should include a government representative.

The opposition saw the controversial letter as an attempt to interfere in the judiciary, as in 2015 the Supreme Court had already declared a reform – that established a joint committee comprising of government representatives and the oldest judges of the Supreme Court – unconstitutional.

On Monday, at an event organized by the Delhi Bar Association, Rijiju again said that the judges “once elected, do not have to face elections or scrutiny,” a statement that grabbed headlines.

The tussle between the government and the judificary has continued to gather steam after Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar questioned the principle that the basic structure of the Indian constitution cannot be modified by the parliament.

While Dhankhar said this set a bad precedent, Chandrachud said the judgment that laid down the principle was a guidiing light for the judiciary about the basic essence of the constitution. EFE


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