In an unprecedented move, Opposition parties led by the Congress took the first step towards proposing an impeachment of Chief Justice
of India Dipak Misra by submitting the petition with over 64 signatures to Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.
The petition listed five allegations of “misbehaviour” against the Chief Justice. This is the first time in the country's history that an impeachment motion would be moved against the CJI. The impeachment notice comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected a bunch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of Judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P Chidambaram are not among the signatories to the impeachment motion notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kapil Sibal rejected the insinuation that there was a "division" within the Congress and no consensus among the Opposition parties over the issue. "Since the issue dealt with the Constitution, we have deliberately not included Dr Manmohan Singh, as he is a former prime minister. With regard to some others, whose cases are going on, we did not wish to embarrass them," Sibal told reporters. The impeachment move was condemned by the Bharatiya Janata Party, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accusing the Congress and its friends of using impeachment as a "political tool". He termed the notice a "revenge petition" after the Supreme Court's judgment in Judge Loya death case "exposed" the conspiracy of falsehood.
The Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), besides the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and some other parties, have backed out from supporting the move.
Earlier, the Supreme Court sought Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal’s advice on restraining the media from publishing such “scandalous” stories against the judiciary.
Here are the top 10 developments around the impeachment notice moved by the Congress and other Opposition parties against CJI Dipak Misra:
1. Impeachment notice against CJI an 'attack on judiciary': The notice for the impeachment of the CJI given by the Congress was an "attack on the judiciary" and "politically motivated", Union Minister Vijay Goel said on Saturday.
Goel said the Congress was in a haste after the Supreme Court's judgment in the Justice Loya case, which had not been according to the Opposition party’s "wishes".
"According to media reports, the Congress has given a notice under Article 124 (4) (of the Constitution), but the specific article provides only for the removal of a Supreme Court judge, not impeachment. So, this is likely to be rejected, the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs said.
2. Congress doesn't trust Indian institutions:
Taking potshots at the Congress party for leading the Opposition to demand an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, BJP leader Kiren Rijiju tweeted: "Since people of India have lost faith in the Congress Party, the Congress party doesn't trust people of India and its institutions."
Since people of India have lost faith in Congress Party, Congress doesn't trust people of India and it's institutions. https://t.co/mNjp4DCYIW
— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) April 21, 2018
3. Ashwani Kumar opposes impeachment motion
: Congress leader and former Union minister Ashwani Kumar opposed his party's decision of moving an impeachment motion against the CJI. He said that if he would have been a Member of Parliament and had been given the paper to sign, he would not have done it. "I would not like to get into the merits of the controversy, I am on a larger principle and the larger principle is that impeachment is the extreme remedy – and that too against the chief justice – it is an unprecedented move," Kumar said.
4. Jharkhand CM flays Congress for impeachment motion against CJI:
"On behalf of the 3.25 crore people of Jharkhand, we admonish this act of the Congress.... The Congress is in desperation and frustration," Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das said. Seven Opposition parties, led by the Congress, on Friday initiated an unprecedented step to impeach the Chief Justice, moving a notice accusing him of "misbehaviour" and "misuse" of authority.
5. Manmohan, Chidambaram didn't sign impeachment notice against CJI: Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P Chidambaram are not among the signatories to the impeachment motion notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
The Congress, however, downplayed it saying the party did not want to involve its senior leaders in the issue. "Since the issue dealt with the Constitution, we have deliberately not included Dr Manmohan Singh as he is a former prime minister. With regard to some others, whose cases are going on, we did not wish to embarrass them," Kapil Sibal told reporters.
This inquiry committee will comprise three members - a Supreme Court judge, a high court chief justice and an eminent jurist. The committee will frame charges and ask the judge to give a written response.
The judge also has the right to examine witnesses. After the inquiry, the committee will determine whether the charges are valid or not and then submits its report.
If the inquiry committee finds that the judge is not guilty, then there is no further action. If it finds him guilty, then the House of Parliament which initiated the motion, may consider continuing with the motion.
The motion will be then debated and the judge (or his representative) will have the right to represent his case. After that, the motion will voted upon. If there is two-thirds support of those voting, and majority support of the total strength of the House, it will be considered to have been passed. The process will then repeated in the other House.
After that, the Houses will send an address to the President asking that the judge be removed from office.
7. SC disturbed with MPs' public statement on impeachment of CJI:
The Supreme Court on Friday dubbed as "unfortunate" the public statements by politicians on the issue of the impeachment of members of the higher judiciary. "It is unfortunate. We are all disturbed over what is happening," Justice A.K. Sikri, who was on the Division Bench, said. Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora told the apex court that politicians were making all kinds of public statements on the removal of a Judge without any motion to this effect before Parliament. She averred that there can be no discussion and the issue of impeachment cannot be made public till a certain point.
The bench, also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, said: "Legislators are also supposed to follow rules."
"Judges have to act fearlessly," the lawyer said, adding that politicians have been publicly speaking on the issue and the media was reporting, which affected the functioning of the judiciary.The matter was heard in the court hours before the opposition MPs moved the impeachment motion against CJI Misra.
8. Constitutional experts oppose impeachment motion against CJI Misra:
The move that came a day after an apex court bench headed by the CJI rejected the pleas for a probe into special CBI judge B H Loya's death, was termed as "motivated" and "political" by eminent jurists such as Soli Sorabjee, former high court judges S N Dhingra and Ajit Kumar Sinha and senior advocate Vikas Singh.
Sorabjee, who was attorney general during the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made a scathing attack on the opposition's decision to go for impeachment of the CJI, saying, "This is the worst that could happen to the independence of the judiciary."
He said Friday's event would shake the confidence and faith of the people in the judiciary.
Sorabjee's view was shared by Justice Dhingra, who said it is an attempt to gain political mileage.
9. Impeachment motion against CJI would get defeated, says AAP:
The AAP on Friday said the impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra would turn out to be a joke as it would get defeated due to lack of numbers in both Houses of Parliament. AAP spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said if the petition was defeated it would also "put a stamp of approval on the working of the chief justice". "For the motion to pass, a two-thirds majority is required in both Houses, and the Opposition does not have the numbers. It will be defeated, and if that happens it will be a joke," Singh said.
10. Arun Jaitley calls impeachment motion 'revenge politics':
The BJP lashed out at the Congress over its move to impeach the Chief Justice of India, dubbing it as an "intimidatory tactic" and revenge petition" to target the Supreme Court. Accusing the Congress of using impeachment as a political tool, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is also a noted lawyer, said it is a dangerous event and serious threat to judicial independence.
Loya won't be forgotten, there is hope as millions can see truth, says Rahul: Congress President Rahul Gandhi today said India will not allow judge B H Loya to be forgotten and millions of Indians can see the truth. His remarks came as the Congress and six other opposition parties moved a notice for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India, a day after the apex court rejected pleas for a probe into the death of Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh alleged fake encounter case.
"'There is no hope left, everything is managed' say Judge Loya's family. I want to tell them, there is hope. There is hope because millions of Indians can see the truth.
"India will not allow Judge Loya to be forgotten," he said on Twitter.
Indians are deeply intelligent. Most Indians, including those in the BJP, instinctively understand the truth about Mr Amit Shah. The truth has its own way of catching up with people like him.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 19, 2018
Charges against CJI Dipak Misra: There have been a number of charges against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Here are a few of them:
a. The first charge relates to the conspiracy to pay illegal gratification by persons in relation to the Prasad Education Trust case and the manner in which the case was dealt with by the Chief Justice. It is on record that the CBI has registered an FIR. References to the Chief Justice by innuendo in these conversations are evident. The denial of permissions to the CBI to register an FIR against the Justice Narayan Shukla of the Allahabad High Court, when the CBI shared incriminating information with the Chief Justice was itself an act of misbehaviour.
b. The second charge relates to the Chief Justice having dealt on the administrative as well as on the judicial side with a writ petition which sought an investigation into the matter of Prasad Education Trust, in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation.
c. Third charge relates the Chief Justice having acquired land when he was an advocate by giving an affidavit which was found to be false. Further despite the orders of the ADM, cancelling the allotment in 1985, the Chief Justice surrendered the land only in 2012 after he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
d. The fifth charge relates to the abuse of exercise of power by the Chief Justice in choosing to send sensitive matters to particular benches by misusing his authority as Master of the Roster with the likely intent to influence the outcome.
How the talk of an impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra began:
The talks of an impeachment motion came after Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, and Kurian Joseph in January this year held a press conference and issued a statement to say that the situation in the Supreme Court was "not in order" and that many "less than desirable" things had taken place. They had said that "democracy will not survive in the country" unless the institution was preserved.
With Agency inputs