In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling out an independent probe into the death of CBI Special Judge Brijmohan Harikishan Loya, Opposition leaders met Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu at his residence on Friday and handed over a notice for impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
While addressing reporters in the national capital, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “We have moved an impeachment motion seeking the removal of the CJI. Seventy-one MPs had signed the impeachment motion (against CJI) but since seven of them have retired, the number is now 64. However, we have more than the minimum requirement needed to entertain the motion and we are sure that the Honorable Chairman will take action.”
Azad had played a central role in collecting signatures of MPs from several parties, including the Congress, CPM, CPI, NCP, SP and the BSP. According to the sources, over 60 MPs have signed the petition till now.
Congress leader Kabil Sibal said, “We wish this day had never come in the fabric of our constitutional framework. Ever since the day he (Dipak Misra) was appointed as CJI, questions have been raised in the manner in which he has dealt with certain cases.”
He added, “We have moved a motion for removal of Misra under five grounds of misbehaviour. When the judges of the Supreme Court themselves believe that the Judiciary’s independence is at threat, alluding to the functioning of the office of the CJI, should the nation stand still and do nothing?”
As per the Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, a complaint against a judge has to be made through a resolution either by 100 members of Lok Sabha or 50 Rajya Sabha members.
The talk of bringing an impeachment motion against the CJI was initiated by CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, weeks after four seniormost judges of the SC addressed a press meet questioning the CJI’s conduct over allocation of cases. But, after initially moving fast on the issue, senior leaders of the Congress later said they wanted all Opposition parties on board.
According to sources, the plans were earlier shelved as Trinamool Congress and DMK refused to be part of the move. Even within the Congress, it is learnt, lawyer-politicians like Abhishek Singhvi had not signed the petition. The Congress ever since has been speaking in different voices on the proposal.
Earlier this month, Congress leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the issue of bringing an impeachment motion against the CJI was closed now. However, a day later, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said, “We never spoke about taking up the impeachment motion.” Last week, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the issue was open.
Once the MPs submit the motion, the presiding officer can accept or reject it. If accepted, a three-member committee comprising two judges — one from SC and one Chief Justice of a HC if the complaint is against a HC Judge; and two SC judges if the complaint is against a sitting Judge of the apex court — and a jurist would be constituted to probe the complaint and determine if it is a case fit for initiating impeachment.