Venkaiah Naidu overstepped jurisdiction on CJI removal motion, say legal experts
Raju Ramachandran, senior advocate and former additional solicitor general, said the notice of motion for the removal of the Chief Justice of India should have been sent to a committee for examination.india Updated: Apr 24, 2018 08:52 IST
Even as a section of eminent jurists have supported the Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu’s decision to reject the notice of motion for the removal of the Chief Justice of India (CJI), another section of eminent legal experts believe the Chair may have overstepped its jurisdiction.
Vice-president Naidu on Monday said in a 10-page order that the notice was of no substantial merit and the allegations raised by the Opposition were neither “tenable nor admissible”.
Raju Ramachandran, senior advocate and former additional solicitor general, said the notice should have been sent to a committee for examination.
“I don’t think the Chair was justified in going into the merits of the charges. The order uses phrases like ‘not verifiable’, but verification can only happen at the stage of inquiry,” he said.
Ramachandran, who served as the counsel for the Justice Sawant Committee, set up when a removal motion had been admitted against Justice V Ramaswamy in 1991, added: “The chair has made the same mistake that many commentators have made in recent days — that the notice must be based on proven misbehaviour. The motion is only required to cite instances of misbehaviour and, if it exists on the face of it, then it calls for an inquiry. Proven misbehaviour is the ground for removal, not a precondition for a motion to be admitted.”
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde said he disagreed with the Congress-led opposition’s move to give the notice, but once it was given, the chairman of the Upper House should have admitted it.
“My opinion was that the Congress should not have bothered. In the past, impeachment cases have been preceded by non-political endorsements justifying it… (But) it is very dangerous for one single person to dismiss the motion. This smacks of arbitrariness and gives too much power to one person to protect a judge against prospective impeachment,” he said.
Hegde argued it would have been better to let the matter play out, go to a committee, and the committee may well have concluded that the charges did not hold.
“It is necessary in any accountable democracy that provisions exist to be able to remove a high constitutional authority.”
Huzefa Ahmadi, another senior advocate, argued that the chair may have overstepped his jurisdiction. “The jurisdiction of the chair to adjudicate the motion on its merits is extremely limited. My personal view is he has transgressed the limits of jurisdiction.”
Ahmadi said that the Chair’s order speaks of taking into consideration various views and articles in recent days.
“He appears to be guided by public opinion, which a constitutional functionary should never do. He should be guided purely by the Constitution.”