The BJP has accused the Congress of interfering with the functioning of the judiciary. In a scathing attack, BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi said that the impeachment notice just a day after the SC rejected the petitions for a court-monitored probe in the Judge Loya case has exposed the Congress party. Congress wants judges to deliver judgment according to their will or else they will bring impeachment motion is the message being sent, Lekhi says.
Big news right now: Leaders of seven Opposition parties have submitted a notice for impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. Addressing a press conference, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad said the notice has the signature of 71 MPs, seven of whom have retired since it was signed. Former Union minister Salman Khurshid, however, disagreed with his party colleagues. “I hope not and believe not… impeachment is too serious a matter to be played with on the grounds of disagreement with any judgment or with any point of view of the court. I am not party to the discussions that have taken place between the parties therefore for me to say whether the grounds are justified or not would be unfair,” he said. Hitting out at the Congress in a Facebook post, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has accused the grand old party of using impeachment as a “political tool”.
Former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh wasn't one of the 64 parliamentarians who signed the notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Congress leader Kapil Sibal confirmed this at a press conference today. Sibal said that the party didn't want to involve Manmohan because of his stature as a former Prime Minister of the country. "We didn't involve him, he is an ex-PM," said Sibal. Other senior Congress leaders including P Chidambaram have also not signed the motion amid talks of a rift within the Congress on the motion. Sibal denied the rumours and said they didn’t sign it to avoid embarrassment as their certain matters are pending before the court.
I hope not and believe not. Impeachment is too serious a matter to be played with on the grounds of disagreement with any judgment or with any point of view of the court. I am not a party to the discussions that have taken place between the parties, therefore, for me to say whether the grounds are justified or not would be unfair," says Congress leader and senior SC advocate Salman Khurshid.
CLICK TO READ | Opposition Move Notice on CJI Impeachment Motion. But Can a CJI be Ousted?
India has never faced a single case of a judge being impeached, so how difficult would it be for the CJI? News18 takes you through the case, procedure and previous examples of similar motions.
"We wish this day had never come. The judiciary holds a very special place and must be above suspicion. Since Dipak Misra became CJI, questions have been raised in the manner that he has taken action. We hoped that the CJI would address the issues highlighted by the 4 judges of the SC but nothing has been done. The impeachment motion has been moved to protect the judiciary, we are not happy that we had to take this step but it was necessary to protect democracy. There is consensus for the impeachment motion. We have not involved Manmohan Singh in these discussions as he is a former Prime Minister. Just to clarify, our move has nothing to do with the recent Justice Loya judgment. We hoped that all problems of the judiciary would be sorted out among the judges but that never happened," said Congress leader Kapil Sibal.
In case the committee decides to support the motion, then that motion is taken up for discussion in the house where it had been introduced and must be passed by a special majority of the house. It is after this step that the motion is taken up in the next house where again it needs to be passed by the two-thirds majority. It is after this stage that the President is approached to remove the CJI. But it is only possible after both the houses pass such a motion with two-third majority. But this case can fall through at any stage whether it be the dismissal by the speaker to admit the motion or the committee failing to find any basis in the charges levelled or the motion collapsing in either of the house.
Now the next step is to check whether the speaker admits the motion or not. The speaker has the right to reject it. If in case the speaker decides to admit the motion, then the speaker or the chairman of the house constitutes a three member committee to investigate the charges. The committee would look into the case and the charged levelled against the CJI. Since this case is against the CJI, the three member committee will comprise of a senior judge of the Supreme Court, a judge of the High Court and a distinguished jurist. The committee usually has the powers of a civil court and can question witnesses and examine documents to investigate the charges.
Can impeaching the CJI be an easy task? Certainly not. The provisions have been kept deliberately complicated so that no one can initiate such impeachment proceedings as per their whims and fancy. For initiating the impeachment proceeding both Article 124 (2) (b), Article 14 (4), Article 124 (5), and the Judges Inquiry Act 1968, has to be taken into account. The first step for such an act is a notice of motion by 100 MPs from the Lok Sabha or 50 MPs from the Rajya Sabha. This motion for removal can be moved in either of the house.
According to the Article 124 (4) of the Constitution of India: A Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehavior or incapacity.
Impeaching or removing the Chief Justice of India cannot happen for any frivolous ground. In 2013, when Shirani Bandaranayake, the 43rd Chief Justice of Sri Lanka, was impeached by Parliament and then removed from office by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country went through an unprecedented turmoil followed by a series of rulings against the government. In India, legally speaking, a Chief Justice, like any other Supreme Court judges can be impeached. This by the constitutional provision of Article 124. Article 124 acts to keep a check on the judiciary by the legislature. However, unlike other countries, there has been no cases of impeachment in India as of now.
One of the first cases under the lens is that of the illegal gratification in the Prasad Education Trust case. This was a case related to a bribery scam in which medical institutions were alleged to have given kickbacks to senior members of the judiciary for clearances to set up medical colleges. It has been alleged that the CJI had submitted a false affidavit when he was an advocate appearing in a land acquisition matter. Another issue which had stirred the hornet’s nest was the case of Judge Loya’s death. The four judges’ presser led to discussions on how the CJI’s refusal to list the PIL demanding an independent probe into Judge Loya’s death to a bench headed by senior most judges. Congress later held another press conference and spoke about the case which had its lens also on BJP president, Amit Shah, as Judge Loya was hearing the Soharabuddin fake encounter case which has Shah as one of the accused.
The entire genesis of moving an impeachment motion against CJI Misra gained heat after four senior-most judges of the apex court addressed the historic press conference where they highlighted issues with regard to improper system of allocation of cases and had also put the spotlight on judicial impartiality. The draft proposal deems "abuse of authority to arbitrarily assign individual cases to select judges" as one of the grounds for moving an impeachment motion.
During the Budget Session of Parliament that concluded earlier this month, the Congress had initiated a move collecting signatures from more than 50 Rajya Sabha members in a bid to table the motion, but there were reservations from parties like the Trinamool Congress. The Congress kept the move on hold, saying it wanted to get as much support as possible from other parties.
The opposition parties that attended the meeting include the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Congress leaders have said that the issues raised by four Supreme Court judges have not been addressed yet by the CJI. They said the party was concerned about the independence of judiciary and people must protect the institution from "gross interferences by the government."
Leaders of seven Opposition parties, led by the Congress party, have submitted a notice for impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. Addressing a press conference, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad said the notice has the signature of 71 MPs, seven of whom have retired since it was signed.
The communal violence at Naroda was deemed "the largest single case of mass murder" during the 2002 Gujarat riots; it accounted for the greatest number of deaths during a single event. Survivors faced socio-economic problems; many were left homeless, orphaned and injured. A number of shrines were destroyed and many schools were adversely affected, cancelled exams or closed entirely.
Initially, seven accused were given enhanced life imprisonment of 21 years in the Naroda Patiya case, which they were to serve after undergoing 10 years' imprisonment under IPC section 326 (causing grievous hurt). The remaining accused were given simple life imprisonment (14 years). A trial court had acquitted 29 other accused for want of evidence. While the convicts challenged the lower court's order in the high court, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) appealed against the acquittal of 29 people — the verdict of the case will be delivered later.
Ex-BJP minister Maya Kodnani, the key accused in the Naroda Patiya case has been acquitted by Gujarat High Court. Out of the 11 witnesses, none named her when the case was being registered. Witnesses said Kodnani alighting from the vehicle to talk to the police. No criminal conspiracy could be established, hence she has been acquitted.
File photo of Salman Khurshid
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