Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju’s argument today that judges are not as accountable to the people as elected representatives was dismissed by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Deepak Gupta. Such rhetoric undermines the independence and strength of the judiciary,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview. He added that the current system exists because it was envisioned by the fathers of the Constitution.
“That’s how we chose in the Constitution for our judiciary. Unlike the American judiciary, at the district level, a lot of people are elected,” he said.
During the debate between the government and the judiciary, Mr Rijiju emphasized again that while judges are not elected and not subject to public scrutiny, their sentences are being scrutinized and evaluated by the people, adding that thanks to social media, the people now have had the right to speak.
Justice Gupta noted that the Supreme Court committee that appoints judges — a process in which the government wants to play a bigger role — was never an election issue. In addition, he said, in most countries, Supreme Court justices are not elected.
“This is not an argument really. It is no argument that we get elected so we represent the voice of the people. See, this bogey which is being raised about the will of the people — I think let it be made clear that even The ruling government does not have the strength in numbers to say they represent the will of the people,” Judge Deepak Gupta said.
He noted that the government received only 35% of the vote, a figure that drops to 25% if the total electorate is included.
Justice Gupta questioned whether the Law Minister’s statement was the result of the Collegium’s unprecedented disclosure of why the government rejected the names of various judges. “Maybe they were shocked by what Collegium did,” he said.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court uploaded the letter to the Center on its website, rejecting all of the government’s objections.