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Court Refused to Say Who Referred Impeachment Case to 5-Judge Bench: Kapil Sibal

"We wanted to know who passed the order that our petition would be heard by a five-judge bench. Normally, reference to such a bench is made by a judicial order. But there is no judicial order here. So who passed the order?" Sibal asked the media at the Congress headquarters here.

IANS

Updated:May 8, 2018, 4:31 PM IST
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Court Refused to Say Who Referred Impeachment Case to 5-Judge Bench: Kapil Sibal
File photo of senior Congress leader Kapil SIbal. (Photo: PTI)
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New Delhi: Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Tuesday said he withdrew a petition against Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu's rejection of an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Chief Justice Dipak Misra as the case had been referred to a five-judge bench without following the due process.

"We wanted to know who passed the order that our petition would be heard by a five-judge bench. Normally, reference to such a bench is made by a judicial order. But there is no judicial order here. So who passed the order?" Sibal asked the media at the Congress headquarters here.

He said Supreme Court rules do not allow the Chief Justice to pass an administrative order to refer a matter to a five-judge bench on the ground that a "substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Constitution arises in the case".

The Constitution Bench excludes the five senior-most judges of the apex court -- four of whom had raised their voice against Chief Justice Misra -- and was formed late on Monday to hear the plea on Tuesday.

"If such an order has been passed by the Chief Justice, although the petition pertains to his own impeachment, then we should be given a copy of the order, as we are entitled to it, so that we can study it.

"They (bench) did not answer our question and asked us to argue on the merits of the case. We told them we could not argue the case until we get a copy of the order. So we withdrew the petition," he added.

On Monday, Congress MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Yajnik had filed the petition, alleging that Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson Naidu's decision to reject the motion was politically motivated.

Sibal also demanded to know if there was "any order by any constitutional authority in India" that could not be challenged in the Supreme Court.

"We submitted if their lordships felt that the Rajya Sabha Chairman's decision is something that cannot be challenged, then they should tell us as much," said Sibal, who appeared for the two Congress MPs.

On April 20, members from seven opposition parties led by the Congress submitted a notice to Chairman Naidu to initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Misra on five counts of "misbehaviour".

Naidu rejected the notice three days later.

Sibal said the Congress did not have a personal grievance against any judge but was raising the matter for the sake of restoring the "dignity and independence" of the judiciary.

He pointed out that it was a few senior judges of the Supreme Court and not the Congress who flagged the issue that everything was not right with the apex court.
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