Seven parties, 64 RS MPs launch move to impeach Chief Justice Misra
20 April 2018
Opposition parties led by the Congress today met the vice president and Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and handed over a notice for impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Last reports said 64 Rajya Sabha MPs from seven political parties gave the notice for the impeachment against the CJI. The MPs were from the Congress, the NCP, the CPI-M and CPI, the SP and the BSP. Another seven retired MPs also signed.
The leaders of these parties earlier met in Parliament and gave final shape to the notice for impeachment, which comes after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions for a probe into the death of Special CBI Judge B H Loya while he was hearing the Sohrabuddin encounter case (See: Loya death: SC throws out pleas, calls them ‘bereft of any truth’).
However, the Congress emphatically denied the move was linked in any way to the decision of a Supreme Court bench led by the Chief Justice on Thursday in the Loya case.
At the same time, the Congress has expressed disappointment with the judge Loya case verdict, calling it a "sad day in India's history". Party chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted that the "truth had a way of catching up" and it would, with BJP president Amit Shah.
"We wish this day had never come," the opposition said in a statement explaining the move and listing five charges of misbehaviour against the Chief Justice. No Chief Justice has ever been impeached in the country.
Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, in a press conference, said that opposition parties had moved the impeachment motion on five grounds of misbehaviour.
The five allegations are similar to those raised in January by four senior-most Supreme Court judges, who publicly criticised the Chief Justice and accused him of abusing his position as "master of the roster". Here too, the reassignment of the Loya case was a major point.
According to NDTV, sources said the vice president, who is also the Rajya Sabha Chairman, will seek legal advice on the motion. Once the notice for impeachment is submitted to the chairman, he will ascertain whether there is merit or ground for moving such a motion.
In case he finds merit, then he may form a committee to look into it, else he can reject it.
The Congress meanwhile seemed divided on the issue of the impeachment motion. Party leader Salman Khurshid said that he was not a part of the impeachment motion notice because he believed the procedure of the judiciary needs to be respected.
Fellow Congressman Kapil Sibal said that the Opposition parties did not have any option to filing an impeachment notice. He said that the Chief Justice had not asserted the independence of the judiciary.
“We intentionally did not involve Dr Manmohan Singh because he has been the prime minister," said Sibal.
Former attorney general Soli Sorabjee said impeachment can only be on grounds of misbehaviour. "One cannot bring an impeachment motion against a judge because you think he has given a wrong judgment," he said.
During the Budget Session of Parliament that concluded in April, the Congress had initiated a move for impeaching the CJI, collecting more than 50 signatures of Rajya Sabha members, but there were reservations from parties like the Trinamool Congress (See: Opposition ganging up to move impeachment motion against CJI).
The Congress kept the move on hold, saying it wanted to get as much support as possible from other parties.