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Modi Cabinet Rejig: Kiren Rijiju gets Ministry of Earth Sciences, Arjun Ram Meghwal appointed as new law minister

Arjun Ram Meghwal replaced Kiren Rijiju as the new law minister on Thursday in a major rejig of Prime Minister Modi Cabinet.

Arjun Ram Meghwal replaced Kiren Rijiju as the new law minister on Thursday in a major rejig of Prime Minister Modi Cabinet.

PTI reported that Rijiju has been shifted and assigned to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, citing sources.

The minister has also been in controversy for his remarks on the judiciary.

Earlier this week, The Supreme Court (SC) had refused to contemplate a plea challenging the Bombay High Court order which had overlooked a petition against Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar and Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju of the Modi cabinet over their remarks on the judiciary and the collegium system for appointment of judges. The plea came up for hearing before a bench of Justices S K Kaul and A Amanullah.

“What is this? You are for the petitioner? Why have you come here? Just to complete a circle of coming to the higher court?” the bench observed.

The bench also said, “We believe that the high court view is correct. If any authority has made an inappropriate statement, the observations that the Supreme Court is broad enough to deal with the same is the correct view.”

The Bombay Lawyers Association (BLA) had approached the apex court challenging the high court’s order of February 9 that was about dismissing its plea on grounds that it was not a fit case to invoke the writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution.

What did BLA say on the reshuffle of the Modi Cabinet?

The BLA had claimed that Rijiju and Dhankhar showed a lack of faith in the Constitution with their remarks and conduct.

It had sought orders to restrain Dhankhar from discharging duty as the vice president, and Rijiju as the minister of Modi cabinet for the central government.

Also read: Maharashtra Speaker Rahul Narwekar to seek EC advice on Sena MLA’s disqualification.

In an appeal, the lawyer’s body had said the “frontal attack not just on the judiciary but the Constitution” by the two executive officials has lowered the prestige of the Supreme Court in public.

Rijiju had said the collegium system of appointing judges was “opaque and not transparent”.

Vice President Dhankhar had questioned the landmark 1973 Kesavananda Bharati judgment that gave the basic structure doctrine.

Dhankhar had said the verdict set a bad precedent and, if any authority questions Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution, it would be difficult to say “We are a democratic nation”.

“It is submitted that the petitioner herein filed the PIL before the High Court of Judicature at Bombay praying therein to declare the respondent no 1 and 2 as disqualified candidates to hold any constitutional posts of Vice President and Minister of the Union Cabinet, respectively, based on their behavior, conduct, and utterances made in public,” the petition had said.

The two constitutional functionaries, it had submitted, showed a “lack of faith” in the Constitution by their conduct and utterances made in public and by attacking its institutions, including the Supreme Court, and showing scant regard for the law laid down by the Supreme Court.

“The conduct of respondents Nos 1 and 2 appeared to have shaken public faith in the Supreme Court and the Constitution,” it had submitted.

The plea had said the vice president and the Union minister have affirmed oaths that they will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution.

“However, their conduct has shown ‘lack of faith’ in the Constitution of India,” it had said assailing the high court’s order dismissing its PIL.

The BLA had quoted the statements of the dignitaries made at certain functions.

The high court had on February 9 dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL) saying, “We are not inclined to grant any relief. The petition is dismissed. Reasons would be recorded later.”

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