Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Saturday criticised the protests by lawyers of the High Courts in Gujarat, Telangana and Madras against the decision of the Supreme Court’s collegium to transfer judges, Bar and Bench reported.

“I heard some lawyers are meeting the CJI [DY Chandrachud] for a transfer…but if this becomes a recurring instance, for every decision of the Collegium, which is being supported by the government, then where will it lead to?” Rijiju asked. “The whole dimension will change. It is not just judiciary alone.”

Rijiju made the remarks during a felicitation ceremony of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud by the Bar Council of India.

The collegium system comprises five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including the chief justice who decides on the appointments and transfers of judges to the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

Lawyers are protesting against the collegium’s decision to transfer Justice Nikhil Kariel of Gujarat High Court and Justice Abhishek Reddy of Telangana High Court to the Patna High Court and acting Chief Justice T Raja of the Madras High Court to Rajasthan High Court, according to Live Law.

The protests were started by the Gujarat High Court Advocates Association and were joined later by the lawyers in Telangana and Madras High Courts.

On Saturday, Rijiju said that there is a need to strengthen bar councils in order to protect the robustness and independence of the judiciary.

“If individuals start asserting their opinion much more than the institution, there is danger,” the law minister said, according to Live Law. “If we have to ensure that the judiciary is respected, independence of the judiciary is maintained, it is not only the conduct of the judges but the conduct of the lawyers is also equally necessary and critical.”

Speaking at the event, Justice Chandrachud said that lawyers should realise that litigants suffer the most due to protests.

“When lawyers strike who suffers?” Justice Chandrachud said, according to Bar and Bench. “The consumer of justice for whom we exist suffers and not the judges, not the lawyers.”

He also defended the collegium saying that sometimes its decisions are taken in view of a national perspective.