Congress MPs challenge Naidu's rejection of impeachment motion

Laverne Mann
May 8, 2018

The Supreme Court has set up a constitution bench to hear a petition on the impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on Tuesday, media reports said.

On 23 April, Naidu rejected the Congress-led opposition parties' notice to remove the CJI saying it lacked substantial merit.

The petitioners contended that Naidu's decision to reject the notice is "ex facie illegal, arbitrary, and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution" that guarantees equality before law.

At court No. 2 Justice Jasti Chelameswar, the second-most senior judge of the Supreme Court said that the master of the roster (the chief justice) has the authority to allot a matter.

The MPs then sought a direction from the Supreme Court to Naidu to immediately constitute an inquiry committee under the Judges Inquiry Act to probe the charges against CJI Dipak Misra mentioned in the removal motion. Faced with Justice Chelameswar's initial reluctance, Sibal said, "I am aware that the CJI is the master of roster and that petitions need to be mentioned before him for urgent listing". The other four members on the bench are Justices S.A. Bobde, N.V. Ramana, Arun Mishra and Adarsh Kumar Goel. "All I am asking Justice Chelameswar to consider this", Sibal said.

The Congress had also asserted that while the constitutional process of removal is set in motion with 50 MPs giving agreement, the removal notice of the Chief Justice of India was agreed to by as many as 64 MPs.

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The petition was moved by Congress MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajni.

The setting up of the constitution bench was mentioned in Tuesday's list of business for the apex court, PTI reported.

A solution has now been found by handing the case to a bench headed by Justice A.K. Sikri, the sixth senior-most judge.

However, after the submissions, Justice Chelameswar and Justice Kaul went into a huddle and asked Sibal and Bhushan to come on Tuesday so they could take a call on the issue. The proof was a matter of inquiry and the chairman could not have shut the inquiry in contravention of Article 124 (4) and 124 (5) of the Constitution, which provide the procedure for removal of an SC judge or CJI. "A person maynot be considered a judge in his own cause", he explained.

"It is not mandatory to refer such a notice to an inquiry committee". Also, it is the first time ever a removal motion was moved against a CJI that came to be dismissed.

"The manner in which the Vice-President rejected the notice for impeachment raises serious constitutional issues".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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