Former Supreme Court judge Rohinton Fali Nariman on Friday criticised Union law minister Kiren Rijiju for his “diatribe” against the collegium system and said that the government delaying the appointment of judges is deadly for democracy, PTI reported.

Nariman also said that without independent and fearless judges, the judiciary would fall and India would enter a new dark age.

The remarks come amidst the standoff between the Centre and the judiciary regarding judicial appointments in the country.

In recent months, Rijiju has repeatedly criticised the existing collegium system of appointments of judges and demanded that it should be with the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015.

The National Judicial Appointments Commission Act had proposed to make judicial appointments through a body comprising of the chief justice, two senior Supreme Court judges, the law minister and two other eminent persons nominated by the chief justice, the prime minister and the leader of the Opposition.

Under the collegium system, five senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, including the chief justice, decide on the appointments and transfers of judges to the top court and the High Courts.

On Saturday, Nariman said that it is the “bounden duty” of Rijiju to accept the judgements of the court whether “right or wrong”, reported NDTV.

“Now, you [Rijiju] may criticise it,” he added. “As a citizen, I may criticise it, no problem. But never forget, unlike me…I am a citizen today, you are an authority and as an authority, you are bound by that judgement.”

The former Supreme Court judge made the remarks while delivering the 7th Chief Justice MC Chagla Memorial Lecture on the topic, “A tale of two constitutions, India and the United States”.

In his speech, Nariman also suggested that the Supreme Court should keep a 30-day deadline for the Central government to respond to the collegium’s recommendations, reported Bar and Bench.

“This sitting on names is a very deadly thing against democracy in this country,” Nariman said. “Because what you [government] are really doing is you are waiting out a particular collegium to hope that another collegium changes its mind.”