Union law minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday once again trained his guns on the Collegium system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts, terming it 'alien' to the Constitution of India. .He said that the Central government cannot be accused of 'sitting over recommendations' made by the Collegium and the judges' body cannot expect the government to simply sign off on all the recommendations made by it."There are loopholes in the Collegium and thus, people are now raising voices that the Collegium system is not transparent, there is a bit of opacity, there is no accountability. Thus, don't say we (government) are sitting on the files but if you want to say so, then appoint judges on your own and run the show then," Rijiju said.The law minister further stated that the government will respect the Collegium system till it is replaced by a better system but until then, the government will do its due diligence before acting on Collegium recommendations."When this alien system (Collegium) was introduced, the government of that day and even we very well respect this system until and unless it is replaced with a better system. What I am saying is that as long as this system is prevailing we will respect it. But if you expect that government should merely sign every recommendation, then what is the role of the government? What does the oath due diligence would mean?" Rijiju asked.The government, he underlined, has the apparatus to find out the background of a person and whether he or she is qualified for the judge's job. He was speaking at Times Now Summit on the topic 'Shaping Indian Judiciary For India'. The law minister maintained that the Constitution of India is a religious document for every one and especially for the Central government and anything which is alien to the Constitution, will be questioned by the government. "The Collegium system is alien to the Constitution. You tell me which provision of the Constitution provides for this system. But because the Supreme Court in its wisdom through a court ruling or a judgment created the Collegium which recommends names, government (will do) due diligence," he saidThe Constitution empowers the Central government (through President) to appoint judges to the apex court and also to the High Courts by "consulting" the concerned Chief Justices, he underscored..'No fight for supremacy'.On the recent tussle between the judiciary and the executive, Rijiju said that the two pillars of democracy have no other option but to work together."Government and judiciary will have to work together for the service of the people. There is no question of fight for supremacy or tug of war. In fact, it is a question for the service of the nation. I am bound by the Constitution and if there is anything alien to it, people would question it," Rijiju clarified.Further, he said that he and the Central government have high regard for the judiciary and its prevailing system, however, it would be until a new system replaces the present one. "As the Law and Justice Minister, I do not disrespect any present system but I would strive for a better system, which can replace the (current) system which is considered as not perfect," he said. .People should not abuse judges but judges too should not cross 'Lakshman Rekha'.During his interaction, the law minister, while referring to the recent strike called by the Gujarat High Court Advocates' Association against proposed transfer of Justice Nikhil Kariel, said that there should be some mechanism to ensure that any judge is not made 'untouchable.'"I said this earlier even in front of Chief Justice of India that I don't find the Collegium system perfect but I respect it. On what basis is a judge transferred, I don't want to get into this issue but if lawyers protest it and shut down the High Court then tomorrow for some other judge the strike would again happen. If there is no mechanism to handle such a situation then in future it would become difficult. A judge won't be even touched," the law minister explained.He further said that the judges need to be very careful when they speak in court and that they should not cross the 'lakshman rekha.'"I don't want judges to be abused on social media or public forum as it is my duty to ensure judiciary is respected but if a judge is involved in some conduct or commentary, which wrongly touches the sentiments of the people, we have to think if the judge or his judgment has crossed the lakshman rekha, if he has entered some unchartered territory inviting criticism. Thus, we all need to be careful," he underscored.On the recent query posed by the Supreme Court on how the government chose to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner, the law minister said a similar question could be asked on the appointment of judges through Collegium. "What kind of a question is this? Then the people will ask how the Collegium selected a name of a particular judge for appointment. A judge must speak through his judgment. I cannot tell how judges should behave but the convention says judges should speak through judgments and avoid making commentary," he added..Immediate concern is pendency.There are over 70,000 cases pending before the Supreme Court, 70 lakh in High Courts and over 4 crores in trial courts, the law minister said. This is worrisome and his immediate concern is how to make Indian Judiciary robust enough to deal with old pending cases and also of future pendency, the law minister said. This is a burning issue, he opined.Further, he pointed out that the Central government has approved ₹9,000 crore for court infrastructure and related schemes for the next year. But the problem, he said, is that funds allotted by the Central and the State governments, is not being used by the various committees led by High Court and Supreme Court judges."The amounts approved by us is sufficient but it is not used by the States and also the High Courts. They (States) say they find it difficult to persuade the High Court judges in using all these monies to the fullest. High Court judges head various committees and the States find it difficult to engage with the judges," Rijiju said.He pointed out that the States and High Courts are now coming up with a mechanism to ensure the entire funds are used properly.With regard to the implementation of the Union Home Ministry's decision to release undertrial prisoners, who are languishing in jails for years altogether, the law minister again blamed it on the High Court judges. "I have personally spoken to the Chief Justices of the High Courts to monitor the issue. I find the Chief Ministers find it difficult to give a deadline to the High Court judges' committees," he claimed..Rich people are buying justice by paying more money.On the issue of access to justice, the law minister highlighted how Senior advocates charge in lakhs even for a single hearing, which is affordable only to the rich."When we speak about access to justice, we have to ensure that access to justice should be transparent. Some senior advocates charge ₹30 to ₹40 lakh per hearing which means only rich persons can afford justice but the poor one can't. This means, you are actually buying justice by paying more money," he said.He opined that when we talk about equitable justice, lawyers and judges should ensure that the proceedings aren't influenced by influential persons."Even the judgments shouldn't be influenced by some persons, who are influential or can pay more money. Thus, I have personally requested several senior counsel to do cases pro bono. I have told them that you have earned a lot of money, now it is time to do some social service for the people," he stated.Lastly, the law minister cited the example of the Lok Adalats conducted in Jammu and Kashmir, where even judges of the lower courts sat for the hearings and disposed of several cases. This was an example for affordable and equitable justice, he said.