New Delhi, Apr 20: Seven opposition parties led by the Congress on Friday submitted to vice president and Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu a notice seeking the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
At a press conference, Congress leaders said the parties had to move the notice with a “very heavy heart” since Justice Misra had not “asserted the independence of judiciary in the face of interference by the executive”. They said they had the support of more than 60 Rajya Sabha members. Such notices require the signatures of at least 50 members of a House.
The MPs who signed the notice are from the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, CPI(M), CPI, Samajwadi Party, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the Bahujan Samaj Party. Their leaders earlier met in Parliament to finalise the impeachment notice.
Among those who attended the meeting in Parliament were Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal and Randeep Surjewala, besides CPI’s D Raja and NCP’s Vandana Chavan.
Azad said the notice was moved under five grounds of misbehaviour. “We have submitted a motion signed by 71 people. It also includes seven members who are retired. That should not be counted,” news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
Congress leader Kapil Sibal said: “We wish this day had never come.”
“The constitution allows only one recourse to remedy the situation. Since there is no other way to protect the institution expect to move an impeachment motion, we, members of the Rajya Sabha, do so with a heavy heart,” a Congress statement said.
The notice comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected a bunch of petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of Judge BH Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. The SC judgment was delivered by a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India.
Loya, who was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Shah encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was one of those named, died of a heart attack in Nagpur in December 2014. Shah was discharged from the case soon after.
Sources said West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and Tamil Nadu’s opposition DMK, which were initially in favour of the impeachment against the CJI, are no longer part of it.
The removal motion can be moved even when Parliament is not in session, and requires the signature of 50 Rajya Sabha MPs. Once the motion is moved, the Chair of the House may or may not admit it. If it is admitted, a three-member committee is set up to enquire into charges. If it concludes that there is enough reason to remove the CJI, the House in which the motion was first moved takes it up for discussion and a vote. Once it is passed with a special majority (two-thirds of the members present and voting) in the house, it goes to the second house. If it is passed in both houses, then the address is presented to the President for the removal of the judge, who then passed an order in this regard.
There has been a clear division within the Congress on the issue.
One section believed that the motion was necessary in the wake of the comments made by four Supreme Court judges at an unprecedented press conference in January about the Chief Justice’s exercise of power as master of the roster and it would serve as a ‘deterrent’. Another section argued that moving such a motion may portray the Congress as ‘anti-judiciary’ and would yield little since they did not have the numbers to see it through in any case.