Opposition moves impeachment notice: What next for the CJI
The Vice President has to decide whether to accept the motion or not. If it is accepted, though, former CJI RM Lodha says it will be tough for the CJI to function independently.india Updated: Apr 21, 2018 15:51 IST
With the first notice of a motion for the removal of the Chief Justice of India being initiated in Parliament, the question that arises is whether the CJI, who is “master of the roster”, should withdraw from judicial work. Although there is no precedent, some directions can be gleaned from the case involving justice V Ramaswami 1991.
In justice Ramaswami’s case, a notice of a motion for his removal was brought in the Lok Sabha in 1991. Once it was admitted, he was requested by the then CJI to withdraw himself from judicial work till the three-member inquiry committee finished looking into the charges against him.
Justice Ramaswami recused himself from judicial work till the probe was on, but resumed sitting on the bench again only to go on leave when the actual removal motion was debated in Lok Sabha. Despite the failure of the motion in Parliament, he attended to work only in his chamber until he retired a few months later, according to senior advocate Sanjay Hegde.
But that was after the motion was accepted. In this case, the Vice President has to decide whether to do so or not. If it is accepted, though, former CJI RM Lodha says it will be tough for the CJI to function independently.
“This is an unprecedented event. The Constitution and the Judges Inquiry Act does not say that he should stop exercising his judicial or administrative function. However, it will become difficult for the CJI to function, with the impeachment sword hanging over his head. It will be difficult for him to exercise his power independently,” he added.
While senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan believes there is nothing that bars the CJI form continuing to discharge his duty as the leader of the top court for now, things may change.
“Nothing stops the CJI from carrying out his judicial and administrative work until a committee is appointed to probe into the motion and charges are drawn up. Right now, it’s just a (notice of a) motion. There are no charges, although incidents are mentioned. The question that will arise is that since the CJI now cannot nominate a judge for the committee, who will be the judge concerned to do the same,” said Dhawan.
If the motion is admitted, it will be looked into a three-member team, of which one will be a judge of the SC, usually selected by the CJI.