AMID SPECULATION on whether the Congress and some other parties would bring an impeachment motion in Parliament against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, senior Congress leader and leader of the party in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge told The Indian Express on Thursday that the “issue is closed now”.
Over the last few days, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, had collected signatures from at least 60 MPs — from the Congress, Left, NCP, SP and BSP — to move an impeachment motion against the Chief Justice of India. But the Congress went silent after initiating the move.
While some Opposition parties, including the DMK and Trinamool Congress, had not signed the petition, there were indications that the Congress itself was divided. A senior Congress leader, who is part of the move, had told The Indian Express that the mood in the party was “60:40” — 60 in favour of moving the motion and 40 against.
Asked about his view on moving an impeachment motion, Kharge, in an interview to The Indian Express, said: “No, that issue is closed now. Because there is no question now. And we never initiated (it) in the Lower House. There was a talk in the Upper House, but I think that they have also not taken this issue… But as far as Lok Sabha is concerned, we never initiated anything.”
Pointing out that the session would end on Friday, he said, “we need not talk about that”.
On several Rajya Sabha MPs signing the petition, he said: “For several things, those signatures can be taken… Many times, discussions during other things… but that is not the question. The question is (that) people have got angry about this judgment… atrocities [SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act] and all this. And even the instructions going from PMO to a particular judge or a particular… such things are also heard. I don’t know the exact names and these things. Therefore, some people might have thought that it is better to give certain… but anyway that issue is closed now.”
The move to bring an impeachment motion against the CJI was first mooted by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury in January, about two weeks after the four most senior judges of the Supreme Court — Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph — questioned the CJI’s conduct over allocation of cases to judges.
The Congress was initially cagey. At least two former Law Ministers — M Veerappa Moily and Ashwani Kumar — spoke out against the move. But with a section of the party, as well as Opposition parties like the CPI(M) and NCP pushing for it, it later changed its mind and began collecting signatures, arguing that the CJI had failed to address the key issues raised by the four judges.
But some of the Opposition parties declined to support the motion. “We are trying to get all the Opposition parties on board,” a senior Congress leader, who was among those coordinating the move, had said earlier this week, indicating that there was no unanimity in the Opposition camp.
However, some Opposition leaders said more signatures were collected on Thursday. They said some of the members who had signed the petition earlier had retired, so additional signatures were collected in case of a last-minute decision to submit the motion.