To accept or not? Venkaiah Naidu to consult legal experts on CJI removal notice
Though no time limit has been prescribed by the rulebook, in previous cases when similar notices were submitted, the time taken by the RS chairman/Lok Sabha speaker to decide varied between three and 13 days.india Updated: Apr 21, 2018 11:33 IST
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, who is the Rajya Sabha (RS) chairman, is closely scrutinising the notice submitted by opposition members on Friday for the removal of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra and will take a final call on whether to accept or reject it after consulting legal experts, two senior government officials familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity.
Though no time limit has been prescribed by the rulebook, in previous cases when similar notices were submitted, the time taken by the RS chairman/Lok Sabha speaker to decide varied between three and 13 days, one of the officials said.
“Once a notice is submitted, the RS secretariat does a factual verification of the signatures given by the MPs and submits its report. After that, the RS chairman will consult legal luminaries to decide if prima facie there is ground to admit or reject the motion. In earlier cases, the RS chairman consulted the CJI but in this case because the motion is against the CJI, he will have to consult a legal luminary,” the second official said.
Legal experts said that if the RS chairman decides not to admit the motion, the petitioners may challenge it in court. “It is not a motion admitted under any Rules of the House but is provided for by the statute. So in my opinion, petitioners can challenge the decision on the ground that it is biased,” said PDT Achary, a former Lok Sabha secretary general. Another former Rajya Sabha secretary general, Vivek Kumar Agnihotri, concurred.
“Though there is no precedent, I think it can be challenged by the petitioners if the RS chairman rejects the motion,” he said.
In the event of the Vice President deciding to admit the motion, the two government officials quoted above said that a different and more elaborate process will be set in motion.
The RS chairman will constitute a three-member inquiry committee comprising a senior judge of the Supreme Court, a high court judge, and a distinguished jurist to look into the charges levelled against the CJI.
The committee has to submit its report in three months. “But it can also seek an extension as was done in the case of Calcutta high court judge Soumitra Sen in 2011,” Agnihotri said.
One of the officials cited above said, “If the report is in favour of the person against whom allegations have been made, the motion has to be accepted by the House. If, however, the report finds misbehaviour or incapacity against the person, the process of removal starts.”
The motion for removal is required to be adopted by each House of Parliament, first by a majority of the total membership of that House and second, a majority of at least two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting. If the motion is adopted by this majority, the motion will be sent to the other House for adoption.
If both Houses adopt the motion, it is sent to the President, who will issue an order for the removal of the judge.