Opposition effort to build consensus on removal of Chief Justice on, says Congress

The Congress says discussions on an impeachment motion in Parliament against the CJI will continue among the Opposition amid reports that the party is planning to ‘close’ such a proposal.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2018 14:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Chief Justice of India,Dipak Misra,CJI removal
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra has been in the spotlight since January 12 when four Supreme Court judges held a press conference over assignment of important cases. (PTI File Photo)

Opposition parties intend to persist in efforts to build a broad consensus on a motion for the removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

The matter is still under discussion among the opposition parties, said Anand Sharma, the Congress party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha. “Whenever a decision will be taken, you will be informed,” he told reporters.

Earlier in the day, Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said the discussions will continue among Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.

A media report had quoted Kharge saying the proposal to bring an impeachment motion in Parliament against the CJI had been “closed” and that the Congress had no plans to pursue it. He told reporters that the “matter is still under discussion among the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha but as far as the Lok Sabha is concerned I have got no directions from the party leadership.”

Read | Profiles of the four judges who spoke out against CJI Dipak Misra

The proposed impeachment motion is in relation to the CJI’s handling of matters raised by four top court judges in a press conference on January 12. Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur and Kurien Joseph said Misra was assigning important cases in an arbitrary manner to junior judges, ignoring the four senior judges.

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 MPs in the Rajya Sabha or 100 in the Lok Sabha.

The Chair/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 to be guilty, the House can take up the motion for consideration.

Read | Opposition moves to remove Chief Justice: How and when can a judge be removed

Once the House, in which it is originally admitted, passes it with a special majority, it 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.

The notice can be served even when Parliament is not in session as had happened in the case of former Karnataka high court chief justice PD Dinakaran.

So, far, the Congress has been able to collect around 65 signatures—15 more than the minimum requirement to move a proposal to impeach the CJI in the House — and Left parties and the Nationalist Congress Party have backed the move. Congress leaders have maintained that the party is waiting for a broader consensus within the Opposition ranks on the issue.

Three prominent regional parties, TMC, DMK and BJD, have so far maintained their distance from this initiative, though.

Within the Congress also, there is clear divide on the issue. While one section believes that the party should not get involved as it will make the party appear anti-judiciary, the other group is of the opinion that the motion itself - even if it has no chance of passage - will act as a “deterrent and pressure point” to prevent the executive from influencing the judiciary.

Read | Shanti Bhushan moves SC over Chief Justice’s authority as master of roster

Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar said on Thursday: “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.”

It will be the first time a motion to remove a sitting CJI will be moved in the country’s history if the opposition goes ahead with the move.

First Published: Apr 07, 2018 08:48 IST