Photo Courtesy: The Indian Express.

After accusing the judiciary of lack of transparency, Law Minister objects to public disclosure of IB, RAW inputs by the Supreme Court Collegium

AFTER having accused the Supreme Court Collegium of lack of transparency and bemoaning the lack of accountability of the judiciary, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said it was a matter of concern for him that the Collegium put out in the public domain the inputs of Intelligence Bureau(IB) and the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) regarding some of the candidates for appointment as judges.

Putting secret inputs of RAW and IB in public is a matter of serious concern. I will react to this in an appropriate manner in time,” Rijiju said.

He added that the concerned officer, who is working for the nation in disguise or in a secretive manner, will think twice that his/her report is going to be in the public domain and that doing so will have an implication.

Rijiju’s remark has come days after the Supreme Court Collegium made public objections raised by the Union Government, citing IB and RAW reports, to the elevation of advocates Saurabh Kirpal, Somasekhar Sundaresan and R. John Sathyan to the Delhi, Bombay and Madras high courts respectively.

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Regarding Kirpal, the government objected to his elevation to the Delhi High Court based on inputs from IB and RAW which said his partner is a Swiss National, and that Kirpal is in an intimate relationship and is open about his sexual orientation.

Regarding Sundaresan, the objection was to his sharing views on social media on several matters which are the subject matter of consideration before courts.

Regarding Sathyan, the government objected to his sharing an article critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another regarding the suicide of a medical aspirant, Anitha, in 2017, because she was unable to clear the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). Sathyan had portrayed it as a killing by ‘political betrayal’ with the hashtag “shame of you India”.

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The Collegium, which comprises CJI D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph, overruled all these objections and reiterated the three names holding that these objections did not impinge on the suitability, character or integrity of the person concerned.

In the past, the Law Minister has on several occasions raised the issue of judicial accountability and transparency. “I don’t want to criticise the Collegium, I just want to point out that there are loopholes and there is no accountability. It lacks transparency,” he had said on one such occasion in November.

On Monday, the Law Minister said that judges don’t have to face elections and they have no public scrutiny, but people still “watch” and “assess” them for the way they deliver justice. “In the era of social media, nothing can be hidden from anyone,” he cautioned.

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