THE move by the Congress and six parties Friday to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has split the Opposition with the Trinamool Congress and the DMK not joining in.
Sources in the Trinamool Congress said “political and practical compulsions” forced it to stay away. While the DMK did not sign, its leader Kanimozhi told The Indian Express that “we will support it when it comes to Parliament.”
The Trinamool Congress was once not averse to the idea — party supremo Mamata Banerjee had told reporters in March that the party would go with others on impeachment — but revised its stand.
There were many considerations, insiders say: The protracted process of impeachment; the fact that Misra’s tenure gets over in October and that there is no proven “lack of integrity” as was in the case of Justice Soumitra Sen, the last judge to have resigned just ahead of being formally impeached.
What remains unsaid, of course, is the cases pertaining to West Bengal that are awaiting the apex court’s judgment.
As the Opposition press conference started, the party’s national spokesman Derek O’Brien said: “I will not comment on this. At least we did not change our stand.” The jibe was apparently aimed at DMK MPs who had initially signed the impeachment notice but were forced to rescind.
Trinamool sources say none of the two prominent lawyers in the party, Rajya Sabha MP Sukhendu Sekhar Roy and Lok Sabha MP Kalyan Banerjee, were amenable to the idea of impeachment.
Some in the party said that the TMC, the “third largest in the Rajya Sabha,” didn’t need to play second fiddle to anyone. “This is basically a pre-emptive strike by the Congress so that CJI Misra does not go on to become Lokpal. Deep down, even they know nothing will come of this. They don’t have the numbers. This is bound to fail so why should we play along?” asked another MP.
Said one TMC MP speaking on the condition of anonymity: “If the RS chairman finds the petition good, he will form a committee that has to have two senior judges. If that committee finds merit only then can impeachment happen. Also where is the proven lack of integrity? Let the matter come to the Rajya Sabha, the party will take a call then.”
This was echoed by sources in the DMK in Chennai who said that the party’s position was to wait and watch until the matter comes to the House.
The AIADMK, which spent weeks stalling Parliament over the demand to set up a Cauvery Management Board, categorically said it was not going to support the impeachment.
DMK Rajya Sabha MP R S Bharathi, who is also the organisation secretary of the party, told The Indian Express: “We are not taking part in the impeachment motion. In the past, we did not support impeachment moves against Justice Ramaswami and Justice Dinakaran. If there are any corruption charges levelled against a judge, that is one thing and we can take part. But this is against a judgment. We are with the Opposition and with the Congress but in this particular matter we do not support them.”
Meanwhile, AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan said: “Basically, we will not be supporting an impeachment but our party high command will take a call.”