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Congress MPs Move SC for CJI's Impeachment; Justice Chelameswar Says Come Tomorrow

Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik have filed the petition against the Naidu’s decision to reject the notice of impeachment last month.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:May 7, 2018, 11:38 AM IST
Congress MPs Move SC for CJI's Impeachment; Justice Chelameswar Says Come Tomorrow
(Image: Network18 Creatives)

New Delhi: Justice J Chelameswar is likely to take a call on Tuesday whether he should decide about listing of a petition filed by two Congress MPs for initiating impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice of India.

“You come back tomorrow. We will see," the judge told senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who mentioned the matter before the most senior judge.

Sibal submitted that since the case relates to CJI Dipak Misra, he cannot mention it before the CJI to demand a date of hearing.

“The manner in which the Vice-President rejected the notice for impeachment raises serious constitutional issues. It involves interpretation of pertinent constitutional provisions,” Sibal told Justice Chelameswar.

When asked by the judge why he cannot mention it before the CJI who is the 'master of the roster', Sibal said that the petition seeks impeachment proceedings against the CJI and thus, it cannot be mentioned there.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan too said that in the given circumstances, the CJI is disabled from even directing the registrar when and where to list this matter.

At this, Justice Sanjay K Kaul, who comprised the bench with Justice Chelameswar, said that if the petition has not been numbered so far, let the lawyers wait.

But Sibal maintained that all that they are asking for is a judicial order on listing since the CJI cannot decide it on the administrative side. “It is not so simple,” said Justice Kaul.

The bench then asked the lawyers to come back on Tuesday.

initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik have filed the petition against the Naidu’s decision to reject the notice of impeachment last month.

The petition told the court that Naidu's decision appears to be motivated by “political consideration” and should be set aside for being “arbitrary and illegal”.

“The rejection seems to be motivated by political consideration beyond the constitutional scheme which is buttressed by the fact that one of the charges against the Chief Justice is that he has been partial in assigning political sensitive cases pertaining to the ruling party before particular benches of this Hon’ble Court in order to get a predetermined outcome,” claimed the petition.

“None of the reasons given by the chairman in the impugned order carry any weight or are legally tenable. It deserves to be set aside for being wholly extraneous and ultra vires to the provisions of the Constitution of India and the Inquiry Act,” stated the petition filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes.

It asked for a declaration that V-P, as chairman of the Rajya Sabha, cannot exercise discretion and that he must set up an inquiry panel under the Judges' Inquiry Act, to probe the allegations against Justice Misra.

“In the absence of a full-fledged inquiry, it is not possible to return any findings on the same. Yet the impugned order, in a cavalier, cryptic and abrupt manner, shockingly holds that none of the other charges are made out without disclosing as to on what basis was this finding retuned,” said the plea.

The charges contained in the Notice of Motion are extremely serious and merit a full-fledged inquiry to test their veracity read the petition, adding it cannot be adjudicated in a summary whimsical manner as the impugned order has sought to do.

Contending that the provision in the Inquiry Act that tends to give discretion to the chairman is against the spirit of the pertinent constitutional provisions, it maintained that the chairman/speaker has no role whatsoever with regards to this committee, excepting ensuring that said committee is duly constituted.

“The impugned order proceeds on an erroneous assumption in law that the chairman/speaker, exercises quasi-judicial powers to determine whether to admit or not to admit a notice of motion and whether to constitute the aforesaid committee,” stated the plea.

The only discretion, with the chairman to reject the motion, it added, is if it does not have the requisite number of signatures and that merits of the charges are for the inquiry committee to investigate and present a report on. The petition also claimed that the V-P rejected the notice without proper consultation.

“It is strange that when the motion related to the impeachment of the Chief Justice, the chairman deemed it fit to consult legal luminaries, constitutional experts, former secretary generals, former law officers, Law Commission members and eminent jurists but had not thought it appropriate and fit to consult the judges of the Supreme Court of India. This by itself is a serious infirmity,” said the plea.

Stating that the petition is maintainable, it added that the chairman of the Rajya Sabha is equally a statutory authority under the Inquiry Act and is similarly subject to the courts jurisdiction up to the point of admission of the motion, constitution of the committee and the recording of findings by the committee.

| Edited by: Mayur Borah
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