The Congress-led opposition parties’ decision to move an impeachment motion against Chief Justice Dipak Misra has not gone down well with many experts. In an exclusive interview to The Sunday Express, senior jurist Fali Nariman said the move will diminish the faith of public in the judiciary and pave the path for the ruling party to move against a judge if it doesn’t like a particular judgement. He also termed the development a “horribly black day in the history of the apex court.”
“This is a horribly black day… The blackest possible day. I have never seen a day like this. In my 67 years, I have never seen a day like this,” he said and pointed out that the charges levelled against him by the opposition parties were not in line with what the four seniormost SC judges had stated during January 12 press conference. Nariman said that opposition has accused him of forgery, but the four SC judges didn’t subscribe to this charge.
Nariman said that “this is a very serious move” and you have to have cogent evidence. “You have to be conscious that this is a serious charge against the Chief Justice of India,” he said, adding that “you have to have something to prove.”
In an unprecedented move, four senior-most judges of the SC – Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Kurian Joseph and Madan Lokur had addressed the media in January, criticising the CJI’s style of functioning. They had questioned the CJI over the distribution of cases and raised concerns about judicial appointments. The Congress-led opposition on Friday moved an impeachment motion against the CJI, accusing him of corruption, misusing his authority and failing to protect the independence of the judiciary.
Nariman noted the final interpreters of the Constitution is the judiciary, not the Parliament, hence it was imperative to have ‘extraordinarily important grounds’ to impeach the CJI. “The persons who finally and irrevocable interpret the Constitution are the highest court. Parliament can (only) pass a Constitutional amendment,” he said.
Bringing forth such charges against the Chief Justice amounts to “destroying the Constitution”, Nariman added.
The senior jurist also questioned why former prime minister Manmohan Singh hadn’t signed on the impeachment notice. “Why he hasn’t signed?” he asked. He also refused to buy the Congress’ argument that Manmohan Singh was not involved intentionally as he is an ex-PM. He said that the impeachment motion has nothing to do with the fact that he was prime minister.
“You have to be extraordinarily circumspect,” Nariman said and specifically pointed out that he is sure that Manmoahn Singh realises this.
“I would like to see his signature. I have great regard for him. If he is convinced that these charges are valid, why hasn’t he signed? I have great trust and faith in Dr Singh, I believe that he is a very honourable man, and I would like to know why he hasn’t signed,” Nariman asked.
The Congress-led opposition had on Friday moved an impeachment motion against the CJI. The impeachment motion was given to Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu. It had the signature of 64 Rajya Sabha MPs. The impeachment motion originates when at least 50 Rajya Sabha members (100 in the case of Lok Sabha) give a signed notice to the presiding officer.