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Yechury starts talks with other parties on CJI ‘removal’

Sitatam Yechury’s comes close on the heels of four senior judges of the Supreme Court virtually revolting against CJI Dipak Misra.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2018 22:46 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sitaram Yechury,Chief Justice of India,Dipak Misra
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra addressing at the inauguration of the National Law Day in New Delhi.(PTI File Photo)

The CPI(M) has started rallying opposition parties to discuss the possibility of bringing a motion in the coming Budget session of Parliament to remove the Chief Justice of India in a move that could impart a political colour to the ongoing tug-of-war between CJI Dipak Misra and four senior judges of the Supreme Court.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who is in the forefront of this initiative, said on Tuesday that several opposition parties had expressed deep concern about the serious issues raised by the senior SC judges. On January 12, in a press conference they expressed concern over the way the CJI was administering the court, including allocation of sensitive and important cases.

The matter hasn’t been resolved, he added. While Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph, the four judges (the senior-most after the CJI) and the CJI have discussed the matter, there has been no resolution.

“We had hoped that the matter would be settled within the judiciary. It’s the collective responsibility of all three pillars — judiciary, legislature and executive — to strengthen our democratic foundation where independence and integrity of the judiciary is non-negotiable. The only way the legislature can ensure this according to the Constitution is by moving a motion of impeachment,” said Yechury.

Yechury added that he has met Nationalist Congress Party leader Tariq Anwar and former JD(U) MP, Sharad Yadav to discuss the matter. “Yes, I have discussed it with Sitaram Yechury. But these are individual discussions and not on party lines. We will take a final call on this issue only after opposition parties reach a consensus,” said Anwar.

Such a motion of removal has to be signed by 100 Lok Sabha MPs or 50 Rajya Sabha MPs, depending on which House it is introduced in. As it is, the CPI(M) has only 7 members in the Rajya Sabha and 9 members in the Lok Sabha. Both the BJP and the Congress refused to comment on the Left party’s move. Prime minister Narendra Modi has maintained that the government and political parties should stay out of the issue and leave it to the judiciary to settle it.

A senior Congress leader said the CPI(M) is yet to discuss the issue with the principal opposition party. “The party leadership will take a decision when it comes up for discussion,” added this person.

The Budget session of Parliament will start on January 29 and continue till April 6, including a month-long recess. Yechury is credited with being the only MP who successfully moved an impeachment motion against a judge (Calcutta high court judge Soumitra Sen) in the Rajya Sabha in 2011.

No judge of the Supreme Court has been removed through this process so far. The only case in which such a motion was initiated and the inquiry committee found the judge guilty, involved Justice V Ramaswami of the Supreme Court (1991-1993). But this motion was defeated in the Lok Sabha.

In 1998, an attempt was made by an NGO, Committee on Judicial Accountability, to get then Supreme Court judge MM Punchhi removed. A motion seeking removal of the judge was signed by 25 MPs of the Rajya Sabha. However, before it could get the signature of the requisite number of 50 MPs of Rajya Sabha, Justice Punchhi was appointed Chief Justice of India. In the absence of the requisite number of MPs signing the motion, it was abandoned.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 17:26 IST