Vice President Venkaiah Naidu rejected the notice submitted by seven opposition parties for a motion for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India citing “absence of credible and verifiable information”. The decision was arrived at after extensive consultations with legal luminaries, government law officers and former Rajya Sabha secretaries general.
“In the absence of credible and verifiable information placed before me which gives an indication of ‘misbehaviour’ or ‘incapacity’, it would be an inappropriate and irresponsible act to accept statements which have little empirical basis. As heirs to an illustrious democratic tradition and custodians of the present and future of democratic polity, we should, in my view, collectively strengthen and not erode the foundations of the grand edifice bequeathed to us by the Constitution makers. We cannot allow any of our pillars of governance to be weakened by an thought, word or action. ..In the end after having perused annexures to the motion and having detailed consultations and having studied the opinions of Constitutional experts, I am satisfied that admission of this Notice of Motion is neither desirable nor proper,” Naidu wrote in a 10-page order refusing to admit the notice of the motion.
On Friday, a delegation led by leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and comprising MPs from Congress, SP, BSP, IUML, NCP, CPI(M) and CPI met Naidu and submitted the notice for impeachment, following it up with a press conference where they discussed its contents but did not release the document.
In going into the merits of the motion itself, Naidu cited a 1993 judgement of the Supreme Court of India in the M Krishna Swami vs Union of India case had said that before admitting a motion the Speaker (of the Lok Sabha. In the present case, it is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha deciding on admission of a notice) should consult people like the Chief Justice of India, Attorney General of India etc. “The grounds mentioned in the motion, the material of evidence placed in support thereof and the advice tendered, if consulted, would form ‘the record’. He (Speaker) would consider that record and filter the process before deciding to initiate proceedings or refusal thereof,” the judgement says.
Naidu who cut short a visit to Telangana on Sunday has consulted among others Attorney General K K Venugopal, former Supreme Court judge Justice B Sudershan Reddy, former attorney general K Parasaran, former secretary general of Rajya Sabha V K Agnihotri, former secretary general of Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap, former law secretary P K Malhotra, former legislative secretary Sanjay Singh and senior officials of the Rajya Sabha secretariat. As he clarifies in the order he could not have consulted the CJI as the motion pertains to him.
Naidu, in his order also mentioned that the violation of the Handbook for members of the Rajya Sabha that forbids advance publicity to any notice submitted by a member, had necessitated a speedy decision on his part to end “needless speculation” following a “spate of statements in the press that seem to vitiate the atmosphere.