THE CONGRESS on Thursday asked Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and the senior most judges to “resist” attempts allegedly by the government to “block” recommendations made by the collegium to appoint judges, arguing if “such steps are not taken, then it would amount to capitulation to the executive”.
The Congress also continued to speak in different voices on a proposal to bring an impeachment motion in Parliament against the CJI with senior leader Kapil Sibal saying all options are open before the opposition.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge had earlier this month told The Indian Express that the issue of bringing an impeachment motion against the CJI was closed now. A day later, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma had said “we never spoke about taking up the impeachment motion or dropping it”. On Thursday, senior party leader Kapil Sibal said the opposition has not foreclosed the matter.
The Congress’s comments on judicial appointments came against the backdrop of Justice Kurian Joseph’s strongly worded letter to the CJI. Joseph had argued that the “very life and existence” of the Supreme Court is under threat and “history will not pardon us” if the court does not respond to the government’s unprecedented act of sitting on the collegium’s recommendation to elevate a judge and a senior advocate to the apex court.
Addressing a press conference, Sibal said the judiciary is at its nadir today. “The fact that one sitting judge, who is one of the senior most and part of the collegium, has to write to all the judges and say you form a bench of seven distinguished senior most judges to ensure that our recommendations are implemented especially in the context of Chief Justice K M Joseph and Indu Malhotra and the fact that the judiciary is not taking action on it is a matter of grave concern,” he said.
Arguing that no party should be allowed to interfere in the processes of appointment of judges to the Supreme Court from High Courts, he said: “If there is any attempt to block that recommendation, the Chief Justice of India and the senior most judges must not only resist it but ensure that their recommendation is implemented. If such steps are not taken, then it would amount to capitulation to the executive which is a very, very serious matter.”
“We would urge the Chief Justice of India and the entire court to stand together and ensure that their appointments are implemented by using processes of law of which they are more familiar than us,” he added. The Congress said it was “also very concerned… that the issues raised by the four distinguished judges have not yet been fully addressed.”
Sibal said a petition regarding the CJI’s powers with respect to the roster system came up before Justice J Chelameswar on Thursday, but he declined to deal with the matter. “I think he does not want the institution to be further embarrassed.”
As far as the proposal to move an impeachment motion against the CJI, he said the “option that is available to us is still open”.
Asked what came in the way of the opposition from moving the motion, he said, “This is not some instant coffee… we are dealing with an institution and I want to make it very clear that it will be a very sad day if the opposition has to take that step. It will be a sad day and if the opposition does do it, it will be with very heavy heart but that does not mean that the opposition has foreclosed that option because remember we are as concerned about the independence of the judiciary as anybody else.”