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'Unprecedented Situation': Supreme Court Hastily Dismisses Petition on CJI's Impeachment

“Dismissed as withdrawn," said the bench, headed by Justice AK Sikri after senior lawyer Kapil Sibal said that he would rather withdraw the petition if the court did not want to part with the details of the administrative order.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:May 8, 2018, 5:34 PM IST

New Delhi: Even as it acknowledged that the situation is "unprecedented", the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to share details on setting up of the constitution bench to hear the petition over impeachment of the CJI, following which the Congress MPs withdrew the petition.

“Dismissed as withdrawn," said the bench, headed by Justice AK Sikri after senior lawyer Kapil Sibal said that he would rather withdraw the petition if the court did not want to part with the details of the administrative order.

Sibal, representing MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Amee H Yajnik, had argued that he would want to argue on merits only after the copy of the administrative order, under which the constitution bench has been set up, is provided to him.

"We should at least be told how this matter has been listed. What is so secret about this order? We want to see who has passed this order because we may challenge that order. We don't want CJI to be involved with this matter at all since the proposed impeachment motion is against him. Or let this court declare it once and for all that this is an administrative order which can never be challenged," Sibal argued.

He added that since there is no judicial order referring the plea to a five-judge bench, he has to presume there is an administrative order and he needs a copy of that order to decide further course of action.

At this, the bench responded that now that the matter has already been listed, Sibal should argue on merits. "What purpose will be served if we give you a copy of the order? Further, is there any restriction on referring a matter to a five-judge bench?" it asked Sibal.

But Sibal, assisted by advocate Sunil Fernandes, stood firm on his ground, and questioned what can be so confidential about the administrative order.

"That would lead us nowhere. This is an unprecedented situation. You say CJI to some extent is involved in this petition. But the other four most senior judges (who held the press conference) are also involved on some sense," observed the bench.

At this point, Attorney General KK Venugopal, who appeared for Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, stood up to question maintainability of the plea.

"64 MPs from seven political parties had signed the impeachment notice. This petition has been filed only by two MPs from Congress. So I will presume six other political parties have accepted the Vice-President's decision. This petition is not maintainable at all," the AG said.

Venugopal further said there is nothing wrong even if the CJI has constituted the bench since the precedents have made it clear that CJI will be the master of the roster in all situations.

To this, Justice Sikri told Sibal that the lawyer had begun well by arguing on points of law and Constitution but by insisting upon who passed this order would indicate "there is something else".

Sibal retorted by saying will the dignity of the court be in jeopardy if the petitioners are disclosed how this petition was listed before the Constitution Bench.

"If we cannot be given this much, we don't see a point arguing this case any further. We will rather withdraw this petition," said Sibal.

Seconds later, the bench hastily dictated its order, dismissing the petition as withdrawn.

| Edited by: ---
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