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Key Opposition meet today to discuss motion to remove CJI Dipak Misra

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has called a meeting at 11am, which is likely to see the participation of CPM, CPI, RJD and NCP. Azad is also scheduled to meet vice president Venkaiah Naidu.

india Updated: Apr 20, 2018 11:09 IST
Judge Loya death,Loya death probe,Supreme Court on Loya death
CJI Dipak Misra retires in October. (PTI File Photo)

After weeks of quiet preparation and intense public speculation, the Congress and at least four other opposition parties have intensified discussions and may move a motion in the Rajya Sabha for the removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, according to four leaders involved in the move.

The Congress’ Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad has also sought a meeting with Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu, the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, on Friday. The opposition, one of the four leaders said on condition of anonymity, has collected 67 signatures of RS members for the motion which it may submit to Naidu.

The opposition parties’ move follows a Supreme Court order on Thursday that no further probe is needed in the death of special CBI court judge BH Loya.

Loya, who was presiding over 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 soon after.

The Congress termed the decision a “sad letter day’ in Indian judicial history.” The BJP said the apex court’s ruling was a vindication of its stand that petitions seeking an independent probe into Loya’s death were part of a hatchet job targeting Shah.

Azad has first convened a meeting of opposition leaders at 11 am on Friday. Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, in Hyderabad for his party congress, said Azad had called him on Thursday morning and told him about a meeting of the opposition parties on the issue of removal of CJI.

“He asked if anyone of us can be present at the meeting. It’s unlikely we can send anyone. We, however have signed the notice and are backing the move,” said Yechury, who was among the prime initiators of the move to push the motion.

RS MP and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja confirmed the meeting. “Azad’s office has called us for a meeting. We will discuss a range of issues,” he said.

Azad’s meeting with Naidu is scheduled after this. The office of the vice president confirmed a meeting had been sought and time given for noon on Friday, exactly an hour after the opposition meeting.

A Congress leader, also one of the four cited in the first instance, confirmed that the deliberations are for the purpose of taking forward the motion for the removal of the CJI. When asked whether this will be taken forward, a Rashtriya Janata Dal MP (also one of the four) said, “Your information is correct. Our Congress friends have indicated to us that this will be submitted on Friday.”

The Left parties (both CPM and CPI), Nationalist Congress Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal are on board the attempt to move the motion, he added. The Trinamool Congress, a key opposition party, has however not signed the motion, said a party leader who asked not to be identified.

The removal motion can be moved even when Parliament is not in session, and requires the signature of 50 Rajya Sabha MPs. HT had reported on April 3 that Congress had already got the signatures of 65 MPs but was waiting for a broader political consensus to be reached before moving it.

Once the motion is moved, the Chair of the House may or may not admit it. If it is admitted, a three member committee is set up to enquire into charges. If it concludes that there is enough reason to remove the CJI, the House in which the motion was first moved takes it up for discussion and a vote. Once it is passed with a special majority (two-thirds of the members present and voting) in the house, it goes to the second house. If it is passed in both houses, then the address is presented to the President for the removal of the judge, who then passed an order in this regard.

There has been a clear division within the Congress on the issue.

One section believed that the motion was necessary in the wake of the comments made by four Supreme Court judges at an unprecedented press conference in January about the Chief Justice’s exercise of power as master of the roster and it would serve as a ‘deterrent’. Another section argued that moving such a motion may portray the Congress as ‘anti-judiciary’ and would yield little since they did not have the numbers to see it through in any case.

With the Loya judgement, the arguments of the pro-motion faction within the party got greater weight, said a Congress leader.

CJI Misra retires in October.

(With inputs from Moushumi Das Gupta)

First Published: Apr 20, 2018 07:08 IST