Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday (May 2) said the Narendra Modi government had not done anything to undermine the judiciary’s independence, and every institution should respect the `Lakshman rekha’ or boundary set by the Constitution.
Speaking at an event organised by the Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa in Mumbai, he sought to refute the narrative that the government was exerting pressure on the judiciary.
“It is a misunderstanding that the government is trying to put any kind of pressure on the judiciary. We are not only maintaining the judiciary’s independence but working to strengthen it,” Rijiju said.
“Some people who claim to be liberals are spreading this misunderstanding among people, but it is not at all true,” the minister added.
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To the question whether the government was interfering in the functioning of the judiciary, Rijiju in a lighter vein said a question could also be asked the other way around, whether the judiciary was interfering in the government’s work.
“Our Constitution mandates a Lakshman rekha for every institution, and this line should be respected. Our government under the leadership of Narendra Modi has done nothing to undermine the judiciary’s independence or interfere with the judiciary’s work,” the law minister asserted.
‘Solution for pendency of court cases lies in technology’
“Increasing pendency of court cases is the biggest concern for the country and the solution lies in technology,” he said.
“There are around five crore cases pending in our country. This means there is a delay in justice, which in turn means five crore injustices are being done to the people of our country,” he said.
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“The Supreme Court and Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud are taking steps to promote online hearing and e-filing,” the minister said.
“Some High Courts are, however, going slow on technology. I don’t want to name them as then it would become an insult for them,” Rijiju stated.
‘Funding for judiciary not an issue’
“Budget for the judiciary is not an issue,” he said.
“The Narendra Modi government has done everything to strengthen the judiciary. This is why even during the COVID-19 pandemic, courts in India did not stop functioning,” Rijiju said.
The minister, an MP from Arunachal Pradesh, also said, “For my peace, I derive inspiration from Lord Buddha, but when it comes to fighting for someone’s rights, then my source of inspiration is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.”
“The Modi government is a “Rashtravadi Raj” and only wants people not to forget their roots. Learning a new language or speaking in English is fine, but a person needs to think in their Hindustani language,” he said, adding that Indian courts should start using the local language.
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Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, present at the event, urged Rijiju to look into the proposal to rename the Bombay High Court as Mumbai High Court.
His government recently decided to allot land in suburban Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) for a new high court building and would also consider allotting land in the neighbouring Thane district for an academy for law students, he said.
“We know how important the judiciary is. Whenever we get any requests for manpower or infrastructure (for judiciary), we pass the proposal without wasting any time,” Shinde said.
(With agency inputs)