Indian law minister queries top court's revelations on choice of judges

India's Supreme Court building in New Delhi. The Indian government wants a greater say in the selection of some judges. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI - A recent action of India’s Supreme Court in making public some details of reports by intelligence agencies regarding the selection of judges was a matter of “grave concern”, the law minister said on Tuesday.

A deadlock in appointments of judges to some high courts stems from a difference of opinion between the judiciary and the government, which wants a greater say in their selection, a move some legal experts see as a bid to influence the judiciary.

“Putting in the public domain sacred and sensitive reports of RAW and IB is a matter of grave concern,” Law Minister Kiren Rijiju told reporters, referring to the intelligence agencies, the Research and Analysis Wing and the Intelligence Bureau.

The Supreme Court registrar did not immediately respond to a Reuters’ request for comment on the remarks.

In recent months, Mr Rijiju has questioned the opaqueness around the process of appointments to the higher reaches of the judiciary.

His latest comments come after a group of senior judges of the Supreme Court responsible for identifying and appointing judges last week released, for the first time, statements citing the government’s reasons against their choice of candidates.

The discussion on selection and validation of judges figures in a document kept private to the group of judges and the government.

The reasons cited by the government against some candidates ranged from sexual orientation to views expressed on social media on pending court cases and the sharing of a news report critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India has a backlog of more than 70,000 cases in the Supreme Court and more than 5.9 million in its high courts, official data shows. REUTERS

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