The Opposition has criticised Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju for his remark about some retired judges, saying that the Bharartiya Janata Party leader was “talking like an outlaw”.

On Saturday, Rijiju had claimed that some retired judges are part of an “anti-India gang” and are trying to make the judiciary play the role of an Opposition party.

“...Judges are not part of any group or political affiliation,” he had said. “How can these people openly say that the judiciary must [go] head-on with the government?”

The law minister, however, also said that he has a good working relationship with the current chief justice of India and the chief justices of the High Courts.

Following Rijiju’s comment, Congress General Secretary (Communications) Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “A Law Minister talking like an Outlaw. A Minister of Justice propagating Injustice. If this is not a threat to freedom AFTER speech what is?”

Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal alleged that a few politicians in government are part of “the know not what they say gang”.

Trinamool Congress MP Jawhar Sircar sought proof from Rijiju to support his remarks. “RSS didn’t participate in [the] freedom struggle, – and Hindu Mahasabha supported British,” he tweeted. “Don’t give us pro-India, anti-India gyan [knowledge]!”

Shiv Sena MP (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) Sanjay Raut said that move to criticise juditciary was akin to seeking to suspend Congress MP Rahul Gandhi from Parliament as he had raised his voice about the threats to Indian democracy, reported The Hindu.

“What kind of a democracy is this?” said Raut. “Does it suit the law minister to threaten the judiciary? It [Rijiju’s remarks] is a threat to judges who refuse to bow down to the government and is an attempt to pressurise the judiciary.”

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Thomas Isaac asked if Rijiju is the “minister for law or lawlessness”.

In recent months, Rijiju has repeatedly criticised the existing collegium system of making appointments to the higher judiciary, contending that it is opaque.

In January, the law minister said that it was a “matter of grave concern” that certain portions of sensitive reports of the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing were released in the public domain by the Supreme Court collegium.

His comments came after the collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, referred to letters from the Research and Analysis Wing, forwarded by the government, while recommending the appointment of senior advocate Saurabh Kirpal as a judge in the Delhi High Court.

The collegium had also cited a report by the Intelligence Bureau about advocate R John Sathyan’s appointment as a judge in the Madras High Court.