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CJI impeachment: Two Congress MPs challenge Venkaiah Naidu’s decision in SC, bench to hear plea tomorrow

Justice Chelameswar said since there was a Constitution bench's decision on CJI Dipak Misra being the master of the roster, the matter should be mentioned before Misra.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 7, 2018 8:23:10 pm
Congress moves Supreme Court against rejection of CJI impeachment notice On April 24, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu rejected the impeachment notice signed by 71 opposition MPs of the Upper House. (Express photo/Tashi Tobgyal)

Two weeks after Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu rejected the impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, two Congress parliamentarians on Monday challenged the decision in the Supreme Court and urged Justice Chelameswar for urgent listing of the petition. A five judge constitution bench in Supreme Court will hear the plea tomorrow.

Congress MPs in the Rajya Sabha – Pratap Singh Bajwa from Punjab and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Gujarat – in their joint petition said that once an impeachment motion was signed by the requisite number of MPs, the RS chairman had no option but to constitute an inquiry committee to investigate the allegations against the CJI. The petitioners also doubted the way Naidu handled the whole situation, saying the notice by the opposition MPs was given on April 20 and it was rejected on April 24.

Justice Chelameswar, however, said since there was a Constitution bench’s decision on CJI being the master of the roster, the matter should be mentioned before Dipak Misra. To this, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who has promised not to practice before Misra’s court till the CJI’s retirement, contended that since the impeachment notice was against the CJI, the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court could direct for listing of the petition. The apex court bench, also consisting of Justice S K Kaul, however, did not pass any order and asked the Congress leaders to return on Tuesday.

READ | Tension between Executive, Judiciary: The current conflict — and its fraught resolution

On April 24, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu rejected the impeachment notice signed by 71 opposition MPs of the Upper House, seven of whom retired last month, against CJI Dipak Misra, citing absence of any “proved misbehaviour” or “incapacity” on the part of the senior judge. He ruled in a 10-page order that the grounds were insufficient to admit the petition. Following the rejection of the impeachment motion, Sibal had termed Naidu’s order as “unprecedented, illegal, ill-advised and hasty” and asserted that the party would challenge it in the Supreme Court.

CJI impeachment notice: Two Congress MPs challenge Venkaiah Naidu's decision in Supreme Court Notice to impeach CJI Dipak Misra unwarranted, the Bar Association of India has said. (File)

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also adjourned the hearing on a separate PIL that sought to restrain media from reporting and MPs from making any public statement with respect to impeachment motion against CJI Misra. Justice Chelameswar, along with four senior judges of the Supreme Court, had held an unprecedented press conference in January regarding a crisis in the judiciary and had raised questions on “selective” case allocation and certain judicial orders by CJI Misra.

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