Vice President Naidu Rejects Impeachment Citing Technicalities. (Read Letter)
Naidu held extensive consultations with top legal and constitutional experts before taking the decision, they said.
New Delhi: Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has rejected the Congress-led Opposition’s notice for impeachment of CJI Dipak Misra, saying it lacked substantial merit.
“Clearly, this is an internal matter to be resolved by the Supreme Court itself,” Vice-Chairman Naidu said in the order. “Going through the five allegations mentioned in the Notice, I am of the view that they are neither tenable nor admissible. The allegations emerging from the present case have a serious tendency of undermining the independence of Judiciary, which is the basic tenet of the Constitution of India. Considering the totality of facts, I am of the firm opinion that it is neither legal nor desirable or proper to admit the Notice of Motion on any one of these grounds.”
Naidu, the Press Trust of India reported, held extensive consultations with top legal and constitutional experts before taking the decision. The rejection of the notice comes a day after he held the consultations with such experts to determine the maintainability of the motion.
Naidu also confirmed reports that the opposition had violated norms by giving advance publicity to the impeachment notice. Naidu cited paragraph 2.2 of the ‘Handbook for Members of Rajya Sabha’, stating that it “prohibits publicity of any Notice submitted by a member till it has been admitted by the Chairman and circulated to the members”.
“In the instant case,” Naidu states in the order, “immediately after submitting the Notice to me on April 20, 2018, Members addressed a press conference and shared the statements contained in the Notice which included some still unsubstantiated charges against the CJI. This act of Members of discussing the conduct of the CJI in the press is against propriety and parliamentary decorum as it denigrates the institution of CJI.”
“In the absence of credible and verifiable information placed before me which gives an indication of ‘misbehaviour’ or ‘incapacity’, it would be an inappropriate and irresponsible act to accept statements which have little empirical basis,” the order stated.
Sources told PTI said Vice-President Naidu met several experts after he re-scheduled his travel plans considering the seriousness of the matter.
Seven opposition parties led by the Congress had last week moved a notice before him for impeachment of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on five grounds of ‘misbehaviour’.
According to NDTV, the opposition backed its demand listing five grounds which, the Congress said, equals misbehavior. These included the assigning of sensitive cases to handpicked judges, which was raised publicly in January by four top judges who accused the Chief Justice of abusing his position as “master of the roster”. The trigger for their press conference was the Judge BH Loya’s death case, which was later reassigned.
This is the first time ever that an impeachment notice has been filed against a sitting CJI.
The Congress may now be forced to opt for a judicial review of the Naidu’s decision. “The chairman’s decision is open to being challenged. It is bound to go for a judicial review,” the Times of India quoted a senior Congress leader as saying on Sunday.
Expressing his disappointment with the Vice-Chairman’s order, senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan tweeted: “VP Naidu rejects impeachment motion against CJI signed by 64 RS MPs! On what grounds? He has no power to say that charges are not made out. That’s for the inquiry committee of 3 judges. He only has to see if it’s signed by >50 MPs & possibly if charges are of misbehavior. (sic)”
The Congress and six other opposition parties had submitted the notice of an impeachment motion for the removal of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on five grounds of ‘misbehavior’ on Friday.
It was the first time in the history of India that such a motion was initiated against the country’s top judge.
Leaders of the opposition parties, led by Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, met Naidu and handed over the notice signed by 71 members of the Upper House, seven of whom have retired since the time they signed the notice.
The removal motion can be moved even when Parliament is not in session and requires the signatures of 50 Rajya Sabha MPs or 100 Lok Sabha members.
(with agency inputs)