CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury and NCP leader Tariq Anwar Tuesday said Opposition parties are “considering” the option of bringing an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra in Parliament. They said it is the only way the legislature can ensure an inquiry into “serious issues” raised by four senior judges of the Supreme Court.
On January 12, Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, in an unprecedented public airing of grievances, questioned the conduct of CJI Misra over allocation of cases to judges. The judges have since met the CJI but there has been no indication so far of any headway made in breaking the impasse in the apex court.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already said that the government and political parties must stay out of the issue since the judiciary is capable of resolving its problems.
Yechury told The Indian Express that “consultations are on with secular Opposition parties” on bringing an impeachment motion against CJI Misra. NCP’s Tariq Anwar echoed Yechury.
While Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, said he was unaware of any such move, another senior Congress leader, who did not wish to be named, said Opposition leaders would meet over the weekend to discuss the matter. The Congress, sources said, was yet to make up its mind on the issue.
Yechury said: “We are considering. The main point is it has been nearly two weeks now since senior judges have raised certain very important points. And we had hoped that the matter will be settled within the judiciary. We, at least the CPM, are very firm on the position that the independence and integrity of the judiciary is non-negotiable. That should be upheld.”
“All the three pillars of our democracy — legislature, executive and judiciary — must come together to resolve the serious issues raised. The legislature, that is the Parliament, has only one way of doing this. And that is through the moving of an impeachment motion… So this is an issue we are considering. By the time, Parliament convenes on January 29, we will take a final position,” he said.
“We are passing no comments. The matter is serious. They should be inquired into. The only inquiry the legislature can enforce is through an impeachment motion… It is mandated by the Constitution that if there is an impeachment motion by the requisite number of MPs, the Chairman or the Speaker are constitutionally bound to constitute a committee to first examine the charges… And on that basis, if there is merit, then the matter will proceed,” he said.
Under 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 members of Rajya Sabha. After the MPs submit the motion, the presiding officer constitutes a three-member committee comprising two judges — one from the Supreme Court and one Chief Justice of a High Court if the complaint is against a HC judge; and two Supreme Court judges if the complaint is against a sitting judge of the apex court — and a jurist to probe the complaint and determine if it is a case fit for initiating the process of impeachment.
Tariq Anwar said Yechury had spoken to him. “We will also talk to others. We expected the senior judges to sort out their problems, differences… but it seems nothing has happened so far. We are of the view that the matter should be sorted out with the Supreme Court. But it is not happening. So we, the Parliament, have no other option but impeachment. But we will take a decision only after taking all Opposition leaders into confidence… We have started talking. Leaders are saying till when can we wait and watch… The issues raised by the judges are of a very serious nature,” he said.
Both Yechury and Anwar did not specify on which ground will they bring in an impeachment motion, if at all they do bring one. They said consultations are on with all parties and they will try to evolve consensus first. Sources said consultations are on with the Congress, Samajwadi Party, RJD and others.