Seven opposition parties led by Congress, on April 20 took the first step towards the impeachment of the Chief Justice of India by submitting the petition with 71 signatures to the Vice-President, Venkaiah Naidu, who is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha in Parliament.
Congress said that the step has been taken with a “heavy heart”.
Since the signatures have been collected, seven members of Rajya Sabha have resigned.
The Congress said, “The constitution allows only one recourse to remedy the situation. Since there is no other way to protect the institution except to move an impeachment motion, we, members of the Rajya Sabha, do so with a heavy heart.”
Reportedly, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s signature was not included “intentionally”. Congress leader Kapil Sibal said, “We didn’t involve Manmohan Singh intentionally as he is an ex-PM.”
Apart from Congress, the other parties which have signed the motion are Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
However, sources said that the opposition is divided on the decision with parties like Trinamool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) who were earlier in favour of the impeachment, later backed out.
No CJI has ever been impeached before
The former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said, “One cannot bring an impeachment motion against a judge because you think he has given a wrong judgment.” He also said that impeachment can be only on the grounds of misbehaviour.
According to the Constitution of India, the Chief Justice of India only can be impeached on the grounds of proven misbehaviour or incapacity. It also says that the Judge of the Supreme Court can be removed from the office on the order of the president only after an address by each House of Parliament “supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session.”
Congress has denied any relationship between the decision of a Supreme Court bench by the Chief Justice yesterday in the Justice Loya case and this move.
The petition listed five charges against CJI Dipak Misra including assigning of sensitive cases to selected judges, against which even four senior-most Supreme Court judges held a press conference in January.
According to sources, the Vice President will seek legal advice on the motion.
On March 27, top Congress leaders along with several opposition parties formally started the process of moving an impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha against Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on several charges, including selectively assigning important cases to select judges.
This came months after four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court addressed the media regarding the issue of judicial appointments.
Congress leaders, including Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma, began approaching leaders belonging to Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in the draft petition. Only a minimum of 50 MPs’ signatures was required to bring such an impeachment motion.