Seven parties submit notice for impeachment proceedings against CJI

Congress leader Kapil Sibal addresses a press conference after opposition parties submitted a notice to the Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu to initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in New Delhi on Friday. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI leader D Raja and Rajya Sabha MP KTS Tulsi are also seen. PTI Photo

After weeks of indecision, seven opposition parties on Friday took the unprecedented step of submitting a notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

The opposition move came a day after the Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Misra rejected petitions demanding an independent inquiry into the death of B H Loya, the special CBI judge who was hearing the Soharabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was one of the accused.

The opposition parties have listed five grounds of “misbehaviour” and “misuse of authority” including the concerns voiced by four seniormost judges of the Supreme Court in their January 12 press conference, allegations of bribery in the Prasad Education Trust case, and purchase of land during his days as an advocate.

Leaders of opposition parties including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Vandana Chavan, D Raja and K T S Tulsi, met Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu at his residence and submitted the impeachment motion that had signatures of 71 members of the Upper House, seven of whom have since retired.

“We wish this day had never come,” Sibal told reporters at a press conference to announce the first ever move to seek removal of the Chief Justice of India.
He said the allegations against the CJI cannot be ignored and if the notice for the impeachment motion is accepted “then as per convention, he has to refrain from discharging his judicial functions”.

Azad rejected suggestions that the decision to launch proceedings to remove the CJI was linked to the Supreme Court judgement on Thursday in the Justice Loya case. “We had sought appointment with the Rajya Sabha Chairman one week back, but the Chairman was on a visit to the northeastern states,” said Azad, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

Rajya Sabha members of the Congress, NCP, CPM, CPI, SP, BSP, and the Muslim League signed the impeachment motion. TMC, DMK, RJD and some other parties, backed out.

“We were hoping that the anguish of the judges as reflected in their statements to the press would be addressed by the Chief Justice and the Chief Justice in response would set his house in order. More than three months have passed. Nothing has changed,” Sibal said.

According to the Judges Inquiry Act of 1968, the Rajya Sabha chairman has to ascertain the merits of the impeachment motion and decide whether it has to be admitted or rejected. If the motion is admitted, the Rajya Sabha Chairman will form a three-member committee comprising a Supreme Court judge, a Chief Justice of a High Court and an eminent jurist to probe the charges against the CJI.

Congress sources said the opposition parties could move the SC if Naidu rejected the motion.

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