Congress still discussing motion for removal of Chief Justice, clarifies Kharge
The leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday clarified that discussions on moving a ‘removal’ motion against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra are on among opposition parties in the Upper House.
Kharge was quoted in a media report as saying that the issue of bringing a removal motion against CJI Misra in Parliament was “closed” and that the Congress had no such plans now.
“The matter is still under discussion but as far as the Lok Sabha is concerned I have got no directions from the high command. My statement has been misreported,” he told reporters.
The removal of the Chief Justice - or any judge - is a lengthy constitutional process. To submit a removal motion requires the support of at least 50 members of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha or 100 in the Lok Sabha.
The chairperson or Speaker has to then decide whether to admit it and, if it is admitted, constitute a three-member committee to investigate the charges. If the committee finds the judge guilty, the House can take up the motion for consideration.
Once the House, in which it was originally admitted, passes it with a special majority, it then goes to the other House which has to pass it with a special majority as well. An address is presented to the President for the removal of the judge, who then passes an order.
Chief Justice Misra retires in October.
While the budget session ended on Friday, the notice can be served even when Parliament is not in session as happened in the case of former Karnataka high court chief justice PD Dinakaran.
As many as 76 legislators belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and other parties had handed the motion to the then Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari in his office when Parliament was not in session.
Dinakaran, who faced allegations of corruption, had quit while his impeachment proceedings were on.
The Congress, so far, has been able to collect around 65 signatures—15 more than the minimum requirement to move a proposal to remove the CJI in the House — and Left parties and the Nationalist Congress Party have backed the move.
However, Congress leaders have maintained that the party is waiting for a broader consensus within the opposition ranks on the issue.
Three prominent regional parties, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Biju Janata Dal have so far maintained their distance from this initiative, though.
There is a clear divide on the issue within the Congress as well.
While one section believes that the party should not get involved as it open up a Pandora’s box and will make them appear anti-judiciary, the other group is of the view that the motion itself - even if it has no chance of passage - will act as a “deterrent and pressure point” to ensure that the executive cannot influence the judiciary.
Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar on Thursday said that the entire opposition was in a discussion on the issue.
“I cannot give a reply and the way forward on the issue as it can only be given by the leaders of various parties including the Congress,” he told reporters.
This will be the first time a motion to remove a sitting Chief Justice of India will be moved in the country’s history if the opposition goes ahead with the move.