In a big jolt to the Congress and Opposition parties, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu on Monday rejected the notice to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra citing lack of substantial merit in it. Vice President Naidu made his decision after holding extensive consultations with top legal and constitutional experts, including former chief justices and judges, before taking the decision, sources told PTI.
In his order, Naidu said in that he had detailed personal conversation on all the aspects arising from the notice, adding that he had considered each of the allegations made in it individually as well as collectively. Naidu said that the “motion does not deserve to be admitted, on careful analysis and reflection, I find there is virtually no concrete verifiable imputation.”
Here are reasons cited by Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu in his order rejecting impeachment motion:
1) Violation of Rajya Sabha guidelines
The Rajya Sabha officials found that Opposition parties violated the parliamentary rules by taking making public the contents of the motion before it was accepted by the Rajya Sabha. As per the provisions in the handbook for Rajya Sabha members, no advance publicity should be given to any notice to be taken up in the House till it is admitted by the chairman. “In passing, I am constrained to observe that in this matter, the well established parliamentary customs and conventions ashave been delineated in para 2.2 of the Handbook for Members of Rajya Sabha have been disregarded,” Naidu in its order.
2) No proof to back five allegations
In his order, Naidu said that he found that there was no proof available to back the five allegations levelled against CJI Dipak Misra. “We cannot allow any of our pillars of governance to be weakened by any thought, word or action,” he said. Making strong observations in his statements, Naidu said, “conversations between third parties with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, cannot themselves constitute any material evidence against the holder of the office Chief Justice of India.”
3) MPs themselves unsure of allegations
The order of the Rajya Sabha Chairman said that Honourable Members of Parliament were unsure of their own case. “The Hon’ble Members of Parliament who have presented the petition are unsure of their own case. Page 1 of the petition uses phrases such as “the facts and circumstances relating to the Prasad Education Trust case show prima facie evidence suggesting that the Chief Justice of India ‘may have been’ involved in a conspiracy of paying illegal gratification …. ” it said.
4) Motion based on mere suspicion
The order further pointed out that the motion was based upon mere suspicion. “The motion further states with regard to “the Chief Justice of India that ‘he too was likely’ to fall within the scope of investigation”. It further states that “the Chief Justice of India appears to have anti-dated an administrative order”. I am mentioning this fact because the phrases used by the Hon’ble Members of Parliament themselves indicate a mere suspicion, a conjecture or an assumption,” it said.
“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). Conversations between third parties with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, cannot themselves constitute any material evidence against the holder of the office of the Chief Justice of India,” the order while suggesting that there’s no material evidence against the CJI.
5) Allocation of cases internal matter of Supreme Court
Naidu’s order further suggested that allocation of cases (which was one of the five charges made by MPs against the CJI) is an internal matter of the Supreme Court. “Clearly, 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. 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.
6) ‘No concrete verifiable imputation’
Naidu’s order said that that motion mentioned unverified charges which do not warrant further investigation. “On a careful analysis and reflection, I find that there is virtually no concrete verifiable imputation. Either the allegations are within judicial domain and concern the internal judicial processes or there are unsubstantiated surmises and conjectures which hardly merit or necessitate further investigation,” it said. “It is absolutely essential that one has to exercise the power to decide on the further course of action, as the Supreme Court had already observed, with “utmost care, caution, circumspection responsibly and wholly guided by considerations of the larger interests of public administration of justice,” the order added.
Taken aback by the decision, Congress said that RS Chairman is not the authority to judge an impeachment motion. Taking to Twitter, Chief Congress spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala said, “Constitutional process of impeachment is set in motion with 50 MP’s giving the motion. RS Chairman can’t adjudge the motion, for he has no mandate to decide the merits of the motion.” He added that it is a fight “between forces ‘Rejecting Democracy’ & voices ‘Rescuing Democracy’.”
He further said that Leader of Rajya Sabha(FM) had expressed his prejudice against the motion by calling it a ‘revenge petition’ virtually dictating the verdict to Rajya Sabha Chairman on that day. “Has ‘Revenge Petition’ now become ‘Rescue Order’?” he said.
Citing M.Krishna Swami case, Congress said that RS Chairman can’t decide on merits in absence of quasi-judicial or administrative power. He argued, “If all charges were to be proved before inquiry as RS Chairman suggests, Constitution & Judges (Inquiry) Act will have no relevance. Don’t muzzle Constitution.”
The party’s legal cell is set to address the media at 1:30 PM today. The presser could see the party spell out its future course of action following the setback over the impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra that it had helmed last week.