The Congress-led opposition’s impeachment notice against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra was rejected by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu on Monday on grounds that it lacked substantial merit and that it was based on mere suspicion, conjecture or assumption rather than factual evidence. Naidu, who also is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, took this decision a day after he held extensive talks with experts to ascertain the legality of the motion. The impeachment notice was submitted Friday, a day after the top court ordered that there will be no independent probe into the death of special CBI court Judge BH Loya who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case involving BJP national president Amit Shah. The Congress party was among others demanding an independent probe into his “mysterious” death, alleging foul play. Loya had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter in Nagpur when he died of a cardiac arrest. He passed away on December 1, 2014.
What Chairman said
In his order, Naidu said that MPs who presented the petition are unsure of their own case. He noted that they themselves indicate a mere suspicion, a conjecture or an assumption. He said that the same ”certainly does not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is required to make out a case of proved misbehaviour under Article 124 (4)”. The Chairman said that it is clearly 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,” he said. The Chairman added that the allegations levelled by the Congress and other opposition parties have a serious tendency of ‘undermining the independence of the judiciary which is the basic tenet of the Constitution of India’.
“I am of the clear opinion that all facts, as stated in the motion, do not make out a case under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution which can lead any reasonable mind to conclude that the Chief Justice of India on these facts can ever be held guilty of misbehaviour,” he said in his order.
The Chairman’s decision was met with strong criticism from the opposition with the Congress terming it as “illegal and unconstitutional” and one that was done in a “tearing hurry”. Senior lawyer and Congress leader Kapil Sibal announced that the order will be challenged in Supreme Court. He said that the Naidu’s decision has shattered the confidence of people. The former union minister said that the as per the law, the Chairman must consult an eminent jurist, a HC judge and the CJI. In this case, he said that that Chairman should have spoken to the remaining judges in the collegium. He stressed that never before in India’s history has a motion moved by MPs been dismissed at the preliminary stage.
Opposition’s five charges of misbehaviour against the CJI
In a first, 64 Rajya Sabha MPs belonging to seven opposition parties had submitted a notice to the Chairman on April 20 for the impeachment of CJI Dipak Misra on five grounds. The notice had alleged five charges of misbehaviour against the CJI. They accused him of conspiracy to pay illegal gratification in a case relating to an educational trust; dealing administratively and judicially with writ petition in which he himself was likely to fall within the scope of scrutiny; the letter addressed to Justice Chelameswar stating him not to hear the matter was antedated; acquiring land by giving false affidavit when he was advocate; and abuse of exercise of power by the CJI.
What BJP said
Reacting to the developments, BJP national president Amit Shah said that the Congress’ move was part of a larger trend to demonise and weaken every institution which seeks to maintain its individual identity and not kowtow to the dynasty. Addressing the media, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said that it is time to impeach the Congress. He said that people have started the impeachment process against the Congress in 2014 which will be completed with the Karnataka results. He said that the fight between the BJP and Congress was about democracy vs dynasty. He said that in the end democracy will win and the dynasty will fail.