Opposition divided over possible impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra

The opinion of the Opposition is divided on Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury’s efforts to bring an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra.

Other Opposition parties, including the Congress, are unwilling to commit to anything that could be perceived as them trying to interfere in what is an internal issue of the judiciary. However, they also wish to keep the issue in the forefront of the public discourse, so that the concerns raised by the four judges — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur, and Kurian Joseph — on January 12 are addressed.

Several key political cases are currently being heard, or will come up for hearing, in the Supreme Court. These include, the Ram Janmabhoomi, death of Judge B H Loya, Aadhaar, and others. A day after Yechury reached out other Opposition parties for bringing impeachment against the CJI, the Congress kept its plans open ended. 

Congress spokesperson R P N Singh said its leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, will consult with other Opposition parties on the issue.

“We have never politicised the issue and don’t intend to. But the issues raised (by the four judges) are unprecedented. We will consult with other Opposition parties and make a statement (on the impeachment motion),” Singh said.

If an impeachment motion is to be moved in the Rajya Sabha, it requires 50 MPs to sign it; 100 MPs need to sign the impeachment motion in the Lok Sabha.

On Tuesday, Yechury met Nationalist Congress Party leader Tariq Anwar and rebel Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav to discuss the issue. He said the judiciary has been unable to address the issues flagged by the Supreme Court and it was time that the legislature and the executive come together to resolve the crisis.

“Suggestions have come from other Opposition parties that we should consider an impeachment motion. Discussions are on. By the time the Parliament session begins on January 29, something concrete will emerge,” Yechury said.

However, there is no consensus on the issue within his party. Polit Bureau member and former party chief Prakash Karat has said there has been no decision on any impeachment motion against the CJI.

Consensus eludes the Congress as well. According to sources, only senior leader Kapil Sibal is amenable to moving an impeachment motion, while most other leading lawyers in the party, including Abhishek Manu Singhvi, oppose such a move as futile.

But the Opposition also believes that issue should continue to be part of the political discourse since the concerns raised by the four rebel judges are of immense import, particularly to do with allocation of cases to benches in the context of key cases to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Opposition sources also hinted at Yechury being embattled within his own party, and attempting to bring anti-Bharatiya Janata Party forces together to send a message to his party members in the run up to the crucial party conclave in Hyderabad in April.

In an event with significant political overtones and on an invite from Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Yechury is also slated to share the stage with former president Pranab Mukherjee, senior BJP leader L K Advani and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda in Bhubaneswar to unveil a pictorial biography of former Odisha chief minister Biju Patnaik. Along with NCP chief Sharad Pawar and others, he will also take part in the “Save Constitution Rally” in Mumbai on January 26.

Another Opposition source, who favours the effort to move an impeachment motion, said several lawyers in various parties have balked at the move, as they do not want to upset the judiciary.