Updated: April 20, 2018 8:29:56 pm
Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday accused the Congress and six other opposition parties—who have moved a notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Deepak Misra—of using the “impeachment” process as a political tool, adding that it was a “revenge petition after the falsehood of the Congress Party” which was “established in the Justice Loya death case”.
In a scathing Facebook post, Jaitley said the 114 page judgement in the Judge Loya death case authored by Justice D Y Chandrachud on behalf of the three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court “exposes every fact of the conspiracy” to generate falsehood as propaganda in the public and political space.
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 encounter case.
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“It is an attempt to intimidate a judge and send a message to other judges, that if you don’t agree with us, fifty MP’s are enough for a revenge action. The charges read out are issues those which have been settled by judicial orders or by precedent. Some issues are stale, trivial and have nothing to do with judicial functions,” said the senior BJP leader.
The union minister also stressed that trivialising the use of power of impeachment is a “dangerous event”, adding the move by the Congress and other opposition parties “is an attempt to “intimidate” a judge and send a message to other Judges, “that if you don’t agree with us, fifty MP’s are enough for a revenge action”.
Referring to the judgement in Loya death case, Jaitley said never ever so blatantly in the past have national political parties, a few retired judges and some senior lawyers “so closely identified themselves with the generation of falsehood that they almost come out as conspirators”.
Earlier in the day, opposition parties, including Congress moved notice for CJI Misra’s impeachment, accusing him of five counts of “misbehaviour” and “misusing” authority.
The opposition parties met Vice President and Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and handed over a notice for the impeachment of the CJI with signatures of 64 MPs of the Upper House.
Listing five allegations of “mis-behaviour” against Misra, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the notice for impeachment of the CJI has been moved with a heavy heart. “As representatives of the people, we are entitled to hold the Chief Justice accountable, just as we are accountable to the people. The majesty of the law is more important than the majesty of any office,” Sibal said.
“We hope that a thorough enquiry will be held so that truth alone triumphs. Democracy can thrive only when our judiciary stands firm, independent of the executive, and discharges its constitutional functions honestly, fearless, and with an even hand,” Sibal said.
“When SC judges themselves believe, the judiciary’s independence is under threat, alluding to the functioning of the CJI, should we stand still and do nothing,” he further said.
While the notice for impeachment bears 71 signatures, Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, said they have requested the chairman to exclude the names of seven of them as they have retired from the Upper House. It should be noted that the minimum requirement to move a notice for impeachment was 50 members in the Upper House.
The five charges levelled against the CJI in the notice include “conspiracy to pay illegal gratification” in the Prasad Education Trust case and denial of permission to proceed against a retired high court judge in the same matter.
Another charge listed by the opposition parties pertains to a piece of land which the CJI acquired as an advocate by giving a “false affidavit”.
The MPs who signed the notice belong to the Congress, the NCP, the CPI-M and CPI, the SP, the BSP and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML). The leaders of these parties earlier met in Parliament and gave the final shape to the notice for impeachment.
The opposition parties also alleged that sensitive cases were assigned to handpicked judges.Some of these allegations were also raised in January by four top judges of the Supreme Court who had held a press conference.
An impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha has to be supported by at least 50 MPs of the Upper House, while the number of MPs supporting such a motion in the Lok Sabha is 100. Once the notice for impeachment is submitted to the Rajya Sabha 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. If moved, this will be the first time ever in the country’s history that an impeachment would be moved against the Chief Justice of India.
It should also be noted that no Chief Justice has ever been impeached in India and any decision on the notice by the Opposition parties against the CJI is likely to be taken by the Vice President following legal consultations.
(With PTI inputs)
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