5 judges to hear CJI impeachment plea

5 judges to hear CJI impeachment plea

The Supreme Court’s five-judge Constitution bench would on Tuesday hear a plea by two Congress MPs against the rejection of impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

The extraordinary matter, relating to the charges against incumbent CJI, would be taken up by Justices A K Sikri, S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, Adarsh Kumar Goel. All the five judges are placed at number six to 10 in line of seniority in the top court.

The swift posting of the petition filed by Congress MPs Partap Singh Bajwa from Punjab and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Gujarat was announced on the apex court’s website, as senior advocate Kapil Sibal on Monday sought urgent listing of their petition by a Supreme Court’s bench presided over by the senior-most judge, Justice J Chelameswar.

The MPs challenged Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s order passed on April 23, rejecting their motion for removal of the CJI on the grounds of “misbehaviour”.

In his oral mentioning, Sibal contended before the bench, also comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the SC registry was not giving number on the petition, forcing him to mention the matter before Justice Chelameswar.

He said the CJI cannot hear the matter, neither can he order for its listing, therefore the senior-most judge of this court must pass some orders as it was a matter of constitutional importance.

The bench, however, cited a Constitution bench decision passed in November last holding the CJI was the master of roster. Notably, this judgement was passed after Justice Chelameswar ordered a petition for probe into bribery charges against judges in the medical colleges scam for listing before a five-judge Constitution bench.

“I am aware of the procedure but it can’t be mentioned anywhere else. A person cannot be a judge in his own cause. I am just asking for urgent listing and not seeking any interim relief,” Sibal said.

Sibal was supported by advocate Prashant Bhushan, who contended the CJI was disabled to deal with the matter. “The procedure of this court is very simple. I have practised in this court for past 45 years. The Registrar can’t take orders from the CJI in this matter. The CJI can’t delegate its master of roster powers to the Registrar. All I am asking Justice Chelameswar to consider this,” Sibal said.

Justice Chelameswar, however, replied, “I am on the verge of retiring.”

On the counsel’s insistance that some orders were to be passed on when the petition was to be heard and who can hear the matter, the bench sought time to “discuss” and asked them to come on Tuesday.

The MPs’ plea, settled by Sibal, sought direction to quash the order by Rajya Sabha chairman.