Led by Congress, seven other opposition parties — CPI, CPI(M), NCP, SP, BSP and IUML — on Friday met Vice-President and Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and handed over a notice for impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra on Friday, April 20.
Addressing a press conference, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress said, “We have moved a motion for impeachment against the CJI, on five grounds of misbehaviour.”
According to the Constitution, a minimum of 50 members are required to agree to the motion. Azad claimed to have 71 members supporting the motion. “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 and Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal said, “We wish that this day had never come. As representatives of people we are entitled to hold the CJI accountable just as we are accountable.”
“Since the day he (Dipak Misra) was appointed as CJI there have been questions raised in the manner in which he has dealt with certain cases,” said Sibal.
“Questions have been raised about his conduct. It showed in the January 12 press conference of four judges of Supreme Court. One concern of the four judges was memorandum of procedure was being unsettled,” media reports quoted Sibal as saying.
Sibal was referring to an extraordinary press conference called in January by four most senior SC judges.
“When the judges of the Supreme Court themselves believe that the judiciary’s independence is at threat, alluding to the functioning of the office of the CJI, should the nation stand still and do nothing?” Sibal asked.
The Congress leader said the concern of all those who’ve signed the impeachment notice is that democracy is being undermined.
“Impeachment is the only recourse to save the judiciary,” he added.
Earlier in the day, the leaders of the Opposition parties met Azad in his chamber in Parliament.
The Opposition has been working on bringing various parties on board for a larger consensus on bringing an impeachment motion against the CJI.
While the Left parties, the NCP and the Congress are on board for moving a motion, some parties that signed the petition have backed out. Media reports quoting 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.
Congress leaders said the parties had to move the notice with a “heavy heart” since Justice Misra had not “asserted the independence of judiciary in the face of interference by the executive”.
The notice comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected a clutch 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 hearing 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 by the successor judge.
The Congress has attacked the SC judgment on the investigation of Loya’s death as a “sad letter day” , saying there should be a fair investigation into the matter. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said India will not allow judge Loya to be forgotten.
” ‘There is no hope left, everything is managed’ say Judge Loya’s family. I want to tell them, there is hope. There is hope because millions of Indians can see the truth. India will not allow Judge Loya to be forgotten,” tweeted Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress yesterday called the judgement “a sad letter day” in India’s history.
“It is a sad letter day in India’s history. The suspicious circumstances in which Loya died, was a matter of deep concern for those who have faith in the judiciary. The copy of the entire judgment is not yet available. But there are still questions before those who believe in the judiciary,” said Congress spokesman RS Surjewala.
The SC ruled on Thursday rejected the plea to investigate the judge’s death saying it was bereft of any truth and called it an attempt “to malign the judiciary”. It further said judge Loya died a natural death and there was no doubt about that fact.
The court rapped the petitioners and said it would have been ideal to initiate contempt proceedings against them in the case where political rivalry was brought to court to malign the judiciary.