More than 300 lawyers including 62 Senior Advocates practicing before the Supreme Court and various High Courts across the country have issued a statement deprecating the comments made by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on retired judges at the India Today Conclave 2023..Rijiju, while answering questions at the conclave, had referred to a recently conducted seminar on accountability of judges and said that there are a few retired judges who are activists and are part of the 'anti-India gang' and they will have to pay."There are few judges who are activists and are part of anti-India gang which is trying to turn judiciary against government like the opposition parties. Judges are not part of any political affiliation and how can these people say that executive needs to be reigned in. How can they say this? No one will escape and those who turn against the nation will have to pay," he had said..The lawyers condemned the Minister's remarks and stated that such hectoring and bullying are unbecoming of the high office held by him. They also reminded him that criticism of the government is neither against the nation nor unpatriotic, and critics of the government are every bit as patriotic as those in government. "We condemn these remarks in unambiguous terms. Such hectoring and bullying are unbecoming of the high office held by the Minister. We may remind the minister that criticism of the government is neither against the nation, nor unpatriotic, nor “anti-India”. He must remember that the government of the day is not the nation, and the nation is not the government," the statement read..As per the statement, the allegations of anti-nationalism against people who have dedicated their lives to upholding the rule of law, and the naked threat of reprisals against them, marks a new low in the public discourse of our great nation. "We are compelled to remind Shri Rijiju that as a Member of Parliament, he is sworn to uphold and bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India, and as Minister of Law and Justice, it is his duty to protect the judicial system, the judiciary and the judges, both past and present," it added..The lawyers criticized the Law Minister for singling out retired judges with whom he might disagree and issuing public threats of action by law enforcement agencies against them. By threatening retired judges, the Law Minister is clearly sending a message to every citizen that no voice of dissent will be spared. .The statement further said that the space for criticism of the government is not confined to any particular class of persons or barred to any other and that the right of every citizen to dissent, criticise and peacefully oppose any government and its policies or functioning, is an inherent basic human right.."Under our Constitutional scheme, the space for criticism of the government is neither reserved for exercise in parliament or legislatures alone, nor is it confined to any particular class of persons or barred to any other. The right of every citizen to dissent, criticise and peacefully oppose any government and its policies or functioning is an inherent basic human right, which is also Constitutionally protected. Criticism of the government does not authorize a high state functionary to besmirch any individual’s patriotism," it said..The lawyers expressed their concern that the Minister's unacceptable threats meted out against retired judges have the effect of inciting the public against our judges and judicial system and deserve to be strongly condemned. The Minister must realise that by virtue of his office, he is the bridge between the executive and judicial wings of the state, and that he must therefore, maintain a dignified public discourse.Hence, they urged him to publicly withdraw his remarks and refrain from making such remarks in the future.