Rijuji out, in comes another controversial figure as law minister

Union Minister Arjun Ram Meghwal (left) and Kiran Rijiju (Photo:ANI)

Kiren Rijiju, a minister accustomed to controversies, has been replaced by another controversial figure as Union law minister. The incumbent, Arjun Ram Meghwal, is a man who has been courting one controversy after another.

During Covid-19 pandemic, Meghwal hogged the limelight by promoting a particular brand of papad as an antidote to Covid-19 and an immunity booster. The papad brand was part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. Months later, Meghwal, who was the minister of state for parliamentary affairs and heavy industries, contracted Covid-19 himself.

Much before this, on another occasion, when the Digital India campaign was at its peak, the minister on a tour of his constituency in Bikaner courted another controversy. He appeared in a photograph speaking to an official standing on top of a ladder resting against a tree. He took to this antique on being told by villagers about the network issue in the area. He resorted to such a bizarre act at the instance of the villagers.


Meghwal has replaced Kiran Rijiju. Rijiju has now got the Earth Sciences Ministry less than a year after his elevation to the rank of a cabinet status. He has an unenviable track record of stirring controversies. As a law minister he took upon himself to take on the judiciary. Once, he had called the collegium system, whereby sitting judges appoint new judges, as “opaque” and “alien” to the constitutional values.

Rijiju had said, “Since the collegium came into existence, senior judges in the high courts decide who will become the next judges of the high courts, and they send names for the appointments. For the Supreme Court judges, five senior-most judges decide on the names of the new judges. They will only decide on names that are within their knowledge or their jurisdiction. The collegium has created the situation where the judges will take names of only those that they know.”

He was referring to ‘uncle judges syndrome’. ‘Uncle judge’ is a term used in the judiciary to mean your (if you are an aspirant) route to become a judge. With an uncle judge in your favour you will have a cakewalk to achieve the coveted position.

Rijiju stirred up another controversy last year when he accused the first prime minister of independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, of committing “five blunders”. In an article, he blamed Nehru for the Kashmir imbroglio. He called Article 370 divisive and blamed Nehru for its enactment.