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OPINION | Impeachment Motion Against CJI Ill-Conceived; Charges Insufficient

The framers of the Indian Constitution had envisioned the establishment of an independent judiciary for the sole purpose that the institution shall endeavor to resolve issues of the people who approach the court, for the reason that it shall perform its duties without fear or favour, for it to ensure that the ends of justice are met and to subserve our Constitution.

Mahalakshmi Pavani |

Updated:April 23, 2018, 7:45 PM IST
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OPINION | Impeachment Motion Against CJI Ill-Conceived; Charges Insufficient
File photo of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
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The impeachment motion submits five grounds for impeachment, out of which not even one appears to be concrete and all are insufficient, unfounded and ill-conceived.

“The Judicial Power ought to be Distinct from the Legislative and Executive, and Independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that” John Adams.

The framers of the Indian Constitution had envisioned the establishment of an independent judiciary for the sole purpose that the institution shall endeavor to resolve issues of the people who approach the court, for the reason that it shall perform its duties without fear or favour, for it to ensure that the ends of justice are met and to subserve our Constitution.

The judiciary, especially the higher judiciary, is under a Constitutional obligation to not mingle itself with either the Legislature or the Executive for the want of more adept, autonomous and accurate judgments. It is for this godly act the chair of a judge is accompanied by a list of dos and dont's.

A judge who upholds the freedom of speech and expression is devoid of freely expressing his own views, their right of speech can only be exercised through the judgments. The judiciary is like Caesar’s wife, she has to be above suspicion.

The chain of events from the Keshavananda Bharti case to this day has been drastic and shock-inducing. Four decades ago exactly around mid-April it was the Supreme Court that restricted Parliament from amending the basic structure of the Constitution and the reactions of the then lawmakers weren’t as vituperative and ghastly as we see today when the Supreme Court refused to acquiesce the view taken by some interested parties and their representatives in the Loya Case, the consequence of which being the impeachment motion being presented against the Chief Justice of India, I say it again The Chief Justice of India!! It is shocking as the opposition with vested interests indulged in nothing short of revenge. Blackmail is another word which could be used.

It is unseen, unheard and unimaginable that the Chief Justice of the most vibrant democracy is made to be the victim of a political crossfire. Why? Because he dared to decide a matter which was first being heard by another judge and transferred the same to himself to avoid further conflict for alleged reasons of mala fide and taint? The Chief Justice was very well within his administrative capacity and hasn’t abused his powers in any way as alleged by the Opposition in tandem.

Justice Dr. Chandrachud in the judgment has given sound reasons for the refusing an independent inquiry in the Loya Case and has stated that the conduct of the lawyers during the entire hearing was a veiled attempt to assail the judiciary. Having held the submissions made by the lawyers to be contemptuous, scurrilous, scandalous, the judges were benevolent not to initiate contempt, impose the cost or suspend their licences.

The only valid ground for impeaching a Chief Justice of India is of gross misconduct, proved misbehavior and misdemeanor in the discharge of his duties. The impeachment motion submits five grounds for impeachment, out of which not even one appears to be concrete and all are insufficient, unfounded and ill-conceived.

What the opposition seems to be doing is using the press conference by the four judges earlier this year as a shield, other flimsy grounds to launch a campaign designed with ulterior motives to impeach a person of unimpeachable character and integrity just to settle personal scores in an unprecedented manner.

There have been other impeachment proceedings which were initiated but none of them were announced in front of the press and done it as the Constitution prescribes, in Parliament. By not choosing Parliament as the forum of presentation of the motion the Opposition have themselves violated the Constitution.

The former Prime Minister has been kept out of the loop as well as the former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, Salman Khurshid and former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. Why? Shouldn’t the Opposition consult their functionaries who have held reputed offices? Is it correct on the part of the Opposition to first use the services of the court for political vantage and then when the court disagrees, use a circuitous mechanism to derogate their authority and finally resort to impeachment?

The role of a judge is pious but today in the discharge of a pious duty the head of the Indian Judiciary is facing ignominy. The end resulting in the image of the judiciary being tarnished, tainted with flaws, discouraging public faith and confidence in the judiciary.

The sanctity and credibility of this glorious institution is being brought down by a few disgruntled lawyers which should be ignored. A sad day for Indian democracy but the truth will prevail.

(Mahalakshmi Pavani is a senior advocate. Views are personal)
| Edited by: Puja Menon
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