Impeachment motion against Chief Justice: Dipak Misra controversy explained

Impeachment motion against Chief Justice: Dipak Misra controversy explained lawescort

This post discussed about the  motion against Chief Justice: Dipak Misra controversy explained led by the Congress and six other opposition parties submitted notice of an motion for the removal of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on five grounds of “misbehaviour,” the first time in the history of India that such a motion has been initiated against the country’s top judge.

What has Dipak Misra allegedly done?

On January 11, four top-level Supreme Court () judges, had in a press conference, made complaints against Dipak Misra, on the grounds of administrative and judicial irregularity in the apex court.
Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur and Kurien Joseph had said Misra was assigning important cases in an arbitrary manner to junior judges, ignoring these four senior judges.
‘India’s democracy is at stake’, the judges alleged and questioned the sacred position of the Chief Justice of India.
Based on this, the Opposition is circulating a petition to gather the support of other political parties in order to bring the impeachment motion.

Cases against Dipak Misra

  1. The draft proposal has called Misra’s case as “abuse of authority to arbitrarily assign individual cases to select judges”, according to media reports. 
  2. Prasad Education Trust case: One of the cases under the radar is illegal gratification in the Prasad Education Trust case, according to News 18. The case pertains to accepting bribery by medical institutions for getting clearances to set up medical colleges. It has been alleged that Misra had submitted a false affidavit allowing the acquisition of lands to the institutions for building medical colleges. 
  3. Justice Loya’s death: Dipak Misra had allegedly refused SC judges’ petition, which demanded an independent probe against Loya’s death, according to the presser of the four senior SC judges.
  4. CJ Misra “dealt on the administrative as well as judicial side, with a writ petition which sought an investigation into a matter in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation since he had presided over every bench which had dealt with this case” which ”violated the first principle of the Code of Conduct for judges”
  5. CJ Misra “…appears to have antedated an administrative order dated 6th November 2017 which amounts to a serious act of forgery/fabrication”

The motion also pointed to a real estate deal in which Misra was said to be involved.
“The chief justice having acquired land when he was an advocate by giving an affidavit which was found to be false. Further, despite the orders of the ADM cancelling the allotment in 1985, the chief justice surrendered the land only in 2012 after he was elevated to the Supreme Court,” the motion said.

How can the Chief Justice of India be impeached?

  • To move an impeachment motion against the CJI, signatures of 100 MPs are needed in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha, signatures of 50 members are required. The motion can be introduced by in either of the House.
  • After the motion is introduced, it will be up to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha to accept it. In this case, it would be up to Sumitra Mahajan and Venkaiah Naidu, respectively. 
  • If the motion is accepted, a three-member committee, comprising one judge of the SC, one judge of the high court and one notable jurist, would be formed to further investigate the charges. 
  • If the three-member committee further decides to support the motion, the matter will be taken up for discussion in the House where it had been originally introduced. The impeachment process will get passed only when either 100 Lok Sabha MPs or 50 Rajya Sabha members support the motion.
  • Irrespective of which House introduces the motion, according to the Indian Constitution, it will have to be passed by the other House as well. Only after gaining a two-thirds majority in both the Houses, will the motion finally get passed to the President of India. 
  • In this case, if the motion is passed in both the Houses, President Ram Nath Kovind will take the final call.

Who are the political parties supporting the impeachment process?

Besides the Congress, those who signed the notice include members of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party and the Indian Union Muslim League. Nominated member KTS Tulsi also signed the motion.

No CJI has ever been impeached in India, and any decision on the notice by the Opposition parties against justice Misra is likely to be taken by Naidu following consultations with legal experts. The removal has been sought under provisions of the Constitution dealing with the appointment and removal of Supreme Court judges.

VP Venkaiah Naidu Impeachment motion against Chief Justice: Dipak Misra controversy explained lawescort

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu rejects notice for impeachment of CJI

Mr Naidu has consulted the Attorney-General, senior officials. A move led by the Congress to impeach the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, has been blocked by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. As Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Naidu decided to reject a motion signed by over 60 parliamentarians, which called for Justice Misra’s impeachment six months before he retires on five charges. The motion “doesn’t deserve to be admitted”, Mr Naidu said in his 10-page order.

Ten observations made by Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu while rejecting it

  1. Since the notice has been signed by 64 members, it meets the requirement under Section 3(1)(b) of the Judges Inquiry Act. 
  2. At the stage of admission “I have to apply a test that of every statement stated in the petition is believed to be true, would it still amount to a case of ‘proved misbehaviour’ within the scope of Article 124 (4) of the Constitution of India.”
  3. “The Hon’ble MPs who have presented the petition are unsure of their own case”, using “facts and circumstances” at one instance and then phrases like “may have been”, “appears to have antedated” and “he too was likely” elsewhere in the notice. “…the phrases used by the Hon’ble members of Parliament themselves indicate a mere suspicion, a conjecture or an assumption”
  4. This is an “internal matter to be resolved by the Supreme Court itself. Going through the five allegations mentioned in the Notice, I am of the view that they are neither tenable nor admissible”
  5. The allegations “have a serious tendency of undermining the independence of judiciary which is the basic tenet of the Constitution of India”
  6. “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”
  7. The statements made in the Notice of Motion were examined and it was found that “there is virtually no concrete verifiable imputation…there are unsubstantiated surmises and conjectures which hardly merit of necessitate further investigation”
  8. There is an “absence of credible and verifiable information” so it would be “inappropriate and irresponsible” to accept these statements
  9. After consulting constitutional experts and and having studied their opinions the chairman of the Rajya sabha is “satisfied that admission of this Notice of Motion is neither desirable nor proper”.
  10. The press conference by the opposition MPs immediately after submitting the notice to the Chairman “is against the propriety and parliamentary decorum as it denigrated the institution of CJI”

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