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CJI Impeachment Notice 'Motivated', Those Behind This 'Ignored Law and Constitution', Say Eminent Jurists

The unprecedented move by the Congress-led opposition to impeach the Chief Justice of India "smacked of political overtones" rather than any "misbehaviour" and "misuse" of authority and might not succeed in Parliament, the experts said.

Updated:April 20, 2018, 10:10 PM IST
CJI Impeachment Notice 'Motivated', Those Behind This 'Ignored Law and Constitution', Say Eminent Jurists
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, CPI's D Raja and KTS Tulsi during Friday's press conference. (PTI Photo)
New Delhi: The impeachment notice against CJI Dipak Misra moved by the Congress along with other opposition parties has been dubbed “motivated”, “political” and that this was a “sad day” for the Indian judiciary by experts of law and Constitution while also stating that the chances of this notice succeeding in the Parliament is bleak.

The unprecedented move by the Congress-led opposition to impeach the Chief Justice of India "smacked of political overtones" rather than any "misbehaviour" and "misuse" of authority and might not succeed in Parliament, they said.

Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani told News18 that those who have put forward the notice either do not know the law or are ignoring it with this move.

He said, “These people have disgraced the entire judiciary for nothing when the CJI is retiring in a month.”

Asked about the January 12 press conference of sitting SC judges led by Justice Chelameswar, Jethmalani said, “The four judges are wholly wrong. They should not have created such a public mischief. The matter should have been resolved internally.”

Levelling five different allegations against CJI Misra, leaders of the seven opposition parties met Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, and handed over the notice of impeachment bearing signatures of 64 MPs and seven former MPs, who recently retired.

The move comes a day after a CJI bench rejected the pleas for a probe into special CBI judge BH Loya's death.

Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee made a scathing attack on the opposition's impeachment decision and said, "This is the worst that could happen to the independence of the judiciary" and added that the move would shake the confidence and faith of the people in the judiciary.

Sorabjee's view was shared by Justice SN Dhingra, who said it is an attempt to gain political mileage.

Apparently referring to the controversial January 12 press meet by four senior-most apex court judges -- J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurian Joseph -- who raised issues that were reflected in the impeachment notice, he said discontent among the judges of the top court did not justify the move.

"The impeachment notice is motivated and the MPs want political mileage knowing that they do not have the numbers to impeach the chief justice. Discontentment among judges does not mean you initiate the process of impeachment. Discontentment is a part of life," the former judge said.

Impeachment motion

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani told News18 that perhaps those who are behind this impeachment did so because of SC's order on Dawood Ibrahim’s properties. The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a plea by fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim's mother Ameena Bi Kaskar and sister Haseena Parker challenging the attachment of their properties in Mumbai by the government.

Justice Ajit Kumar Sinha and senior lawyer Vikas Singh termed it as a "sad day" for the judiciary and "just a reaction" to yesterday's verdict of the Supreme Court dismissing the petitions for a probe into alleged mysterious death of judge Loya, who was hearing Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

Terming it a sorry state of affairs, Sorabjee told a TV channel that there was no ground to impeach the CJI and the judiciary should sort out its problems itself without allowing politicians to get into them.

"This is the worst thing that could happen to the independence of the judiciary. Please don't affect the public faith in the judiciary," he said.

Reactions poured in after the opposition parties moved impeachment notice, accusing the CJI of "misbehavior" and "misuse" of authority.

Coming out in support of Justice Misra, Sorabjee said a judge cannot be impeached merely because of error of judgement.

"The chief justice is not above the law. He can be impeached but on what ground? If you start an impeachment motion against the CJI on the ground that a certain order of his is wrong, then the very independence of judiciary will be at stake. You are dealing with the chief justice. There should be solid cogent substantial grounds for doing so," he said.

"If you don't agree with an order, you impeach him? This has set a very bad precedent and I am totally against it. I am very distressed that it happened in our country," the former AG said.

On the issue of allocation of benches by the CJI, Sorabjee said, "After all he is the master of the roster. He knows which case should be sent to which bench. I don't understand how any judge can say that certain cases should be allocated to me or us unless you find there is a definite policy."

Vikas Singh also said the allegations levelled against the CJI were not serious enough to impeach him.

"It is a sad day as it comes a day after the judge Loya judgement delivered by the Supreme Court. There are not even serious allegations, still the notice has been moved. It is dangerous as such frivolous motions can be carried out if they (MPs) had the numbers to impeach a judge," he said.

Agreeing with him, Justice Sinha said, "The issues have been going on for the last one-two months and got revived yesterday with the judgement of the apex court in judge Loya matter. This (impeachment move) prima facie appears to be a reaction by the people, who want to impeach the judge, because of yesterday's verdict."

An impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha has to be supported by at least 50 MPs, while that in the Lok Sabha should have the backing of 100 MPs.
| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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