Public statements over attempts by some political parties to initiate action for removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra from office has left the Supreme Court “very disturbed”.
“We are very disturbed about what has been happening…it is very unfortunate,” a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan observed while hearing a PIL seeking laying down of guidelines “regulating the the procedure to be followed” by MPs before “initiating proceedings for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court prior to initiating a motion” for removal.
The petitioner, Maharashtra-based NGO ‘In Pursuit of Justice’, also wants the court to direct the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Press Council of India to issue necessary instructions to the media and restrain them from publishing or broadcasting discussions and deliberations in this regard.
The bench refused to pass any order and said it would first like to hear the Attorney General’s views. The court will hear the matter next on May 7.
Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, representing the NGO, said politicians are making all kinds of public statements about removal of a judge — the CJI, in this case — although there is still no motion for this before Parliament.
Referring to media reports about removal motions against CJI Misra, Arora said a judge cannot act fearlessly when such discourse takes place while he is in office, and the removal motion has not even been brought.
“Under Article 121, even Parliamentarians are restricted to discuss the conduct of a judge up to a certain stage,” she argued. “How can these legislators, as private citizens, talk about the same issue as and when they want? This will impact independence of the judiciary…”
As she brought up the issue of gagging the media, Justice Sikri replied, “You are right, but we will have to examine whether there can by any restraint through judicial order. Law is very clear, and everyone is supposed to know the law — even the legislature should know the law. It is still happening. The question is what can we do now?”
The petition drew the court’s attention to a draft motion for removal of the CJI being made public on March 27, and said it had the “effect of intimidating the judiciary”, and was a “gross abuse” of the process of law.