Kiren Rijiju Replaced As Law Minister, Shifted To Earth Sciences

Just a year before the national election, Kiren Rijiju was removed as Union Law Minister and replaced by Arjun Ram Meghwal.

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After being appointed to the Law Ministry with cabinet status less than a year ago, Mr Rijiju has been moved to the relatively low-key Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Minister of State in charge of Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal will now also be in charge of the Law Ministry. The Law Minister is not a cabinet member for the first time in recent history.

In a note to his former ministry, Mr. Rijiju thanked the Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud, and all the judges in India. 

Having a new Law Minister comes at a critical time when the government and Supreme Court have often disagreed on the appointment of judges.

Due to frequent clashes between the government and the judiciary and his open criticism of the Supreme Court’s collegium system, Mr Rijiju’s brief term was controversial.

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court expressed displeasure in February over the delay in clearing judges’ appointments and transfers, warning of “administrative and judicial actions which may not be pleasant”.

Rijiju had dismissed the warning, saying the country would be governed in accordance with the Constitution and the wishes of the people. In a democracy, everyone has the right to express their opinion, and sometimes discussions are held in the country on certain matters. It is imperative that those who hold responsible positions think before they say anything, whether or not they will benefit the country,” he had said at an event, stressing that no one should be warned.

In last year’s confrontation between government and judiciary, Mr Rijiju said the collegium system was “alien” to the Constitution and had no public support. If something is alien to the Constitution merely because a court or judge made a decision, how do you expect the country to support it?

Furthermore, he referred to the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, which was passed by parliament in 2014, giving the government a greater role in judicial appointments.

As advised by the Prime Minister, the President’s House announced Mr Rijiju’s transfer this morning. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Rijiju changed his Twitter bio.

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