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HomeNewsCollegium critic Rijiju shifted as Meghwal gets law portfolio

Collegium critic Rijiju shifted as Meghwal gets law portfolio

New Delhi: Union minister Kiren Rijiju has been divested of the law and justice portfolio and assigned that of the earth sciences ministry, Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a communique on Thursday.

Arjun Ram Meghwal has been assigned the independent charge as minister of state in the ministry of law and justice in addition to his existing portfolios in place of Rijiju.

Meghwal, who is from poll-bound Rajasthan, is also of minister of state for parliamentary affairs and culture. He is a former bureaucrat and a prominent Scheduled Caste face of the BJP in Congress-ruled Rajasthan, where polls are due to be held later this year. A three-time member of Parliament from Bikaner, he is known for championing the cause of the environment. He is often seen cycling to Parliament.

Minister of state for law and justice S.P. Singh Baghel was moved to the health ministry. A lawmaker from Agra, Baghel was with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The changes came against the backdrop of Rijiju’s openly confrontational approach towards the judiciary. He repeatedly termed the collegium system of appointing judges “opaque”, “alien to the Constitution” and the “only system in the world where judges appoint people known to them”.

He maintained there was no confrontation between the judiciary and the executive but also emphasised that judges cannot be appointed through judicial orders and that it has to be done by the government. He stressed that judicial appointments are not a function of the judiciary and that its primary role is to decide cases.

It is not known whether his approach had anything to do with the change in his portfolio.

A BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said Rijiju’s transfer could be explained by the standoff with the judiciary over a host of reasons including the collegium system of appointing judges.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a plea demanding action against vice president Jagdeep Dhankhar and Rijiju for their contentious remarks on the judiciary and the collegium system.

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