7 parties give notice for CJI impeachment

New Delhi: In an unprecedented step, as many as seven Opposition parties, including Congress, on Friday submitted a petition with 71 signatures to Vice President (VP) Venkaiah Naidu seeking impeachment of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra.

“We wish this day had never come. The Constitution allows only one recourse to remedy the situation. Since there is no other way to protect the institution except to move on impeachment motion, we, members of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament), do so with a heavy heart,” Congress said in a statement.

The parties that have signed the motion are Congress, Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).

Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) are against impeachment.

The seven Opposition parties accused CJI of five counts of “misbehaviour” and “misusing” authority.

“The charges against the Chief Justice are serious and are unbecoming for the position of such constitutional importance,” the motion read.

No Chief Justice has ever been impeached in the country.

According to the Constitution, the impeachment of CJI can take place only on the ground of proven misbehaviour or incapacity.

“A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed 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,” the Constitution says.

An impeachment motion in Rajya Sabha has to be supported by at least 50 Members of Parliament (MPs) of the Upper House, while the number of MPs supporting such a motion in Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) is 100.

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the motion to impeach CJI was a “revenge petition” aimed at intimidating one judge and sending a message to all other judges.

“The motion is submitted just a day after the Supreme Court (SC) rejected a plea for an independent probe into the death of Judge BH Loya. This is a well-thought-out move,” he said.

Jaitley said the divided court was the “single greatest threat” to judicial independence.

“What has happened today is a price the Indian judiciary has to pay for misadventures of many. There is no better time for judicial statesmanship and political foresight,” he said.

Congress denied the move was linked to the decision of a SC bench on Thursday that the death of judge BH Loya would not be further investigated.

Judge Loya was deciding on murder charges against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah when he died of a heart attack in 2014.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said the move was aimed at protecting the Constitution.

“The legal delivery system is faced with serious crises. Such a move is made with a heavy heart. As representatives of the people, we are entitled to hold the Chief Justice accountable, just as we are accountable to the people. The majesty of the law is more important than the majesty of any office,” he said.

He hoped that a thorough inquiry would be held in the matter.

“Democracy can thrive only when our judiciary stands firm, independent of the executive, and discharges its constitutional functions honestly, fearless, and with an even hand,” Sibal said.

However, veteran Congress leader Salman Khurshid disagreed with his party’s move over CJI’s impeachment.

“Impeachment is too serious a matter to be played with on the grounds of disagreement with any judgement or with any point of view of the court. I am not party to the discussions that have taken place between the parties therefore for me to say whether the grounds are justified or not would be unfair,” he said.


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