[Congress leader Kapil Sibal talking to the press after meeting Rajya Sabha Chairman on Friday.]
New Delhi: Seven opposition parties including the Congress party on Friday met Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu and handed him a letter seeking impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. According to sources more than 70 Rajya Sabha MPs have signed the motion. A total of 50 signs are minimum requirement.
The opposition party leaders also addressed a press conference giving details of why they want Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to be impeached. However, the Apex Court objected terming public statements on impeachment of judges unfortunate.
"We are all very disturbed about it," a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said after the counsel appearing for the petitioner raised the issue of politicians making public statements on impeachment of judges.
Never before in the past has any judge, let alone the Chief Justice of India, ever been impeached in the country, though there is a provision in the Indian Constitution for such an action. The move is hence extraordinary and significant also because it comes a day after a Supreme Court bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra dismissed a number of petitions seeking probe into the death of BH Loya – a sitting judge.
Justice BH Loya mysteriously died in Nagpur when he was hearing a case in which BJP president Amit Shah was also an accused. Justice Loya was in Nagpur to attend a marriage function.
In a four page statement issued to the press, the opposition leaders cited five reasons behind their decision to seek impeachment of the Chief Justice of India. “The first charge relates to the conspiracy to pay illegal gratification by persons in relation to the Prasad Education Trust case and the manner in which the case was dealt with by the Chief Justice. It is on record that the CBI has registered an FIR”, the statement said.
The second charge relates to the Chief Justice having dealt on the administrative as well as on the judicial side with a writ petition which sought an investigation into the matter of Prasad Education Trust, in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation. Listing the third charge relating to antedating, the statement said, “The practice in the Supreme Court is that when the Chief Justice is in a Constitution Bench, and matters are to be listed, requests for listing are made before the first puisne judge.”
The fourth charge relates to the Chief Justice having acquired land when he was an Advocate by giving an affidavit which was found to be false. Further, despite the orders of the ADM cancelling the allotment in 1985, the Chief Justice whereas the fifth charge relates to the abuse of exercise of power by the Chief Justice in choosing to send sensitive matters to particular benches by misusing his authority as Master of the Roster with the likely intent to influence the outcome.
Meanwhile, the government has slammed the move by the opposition parties calling it a “revenge petition”, an attempt to defame judiciary and denigrate the institutions.
"It is a revenge petition after the falsehood of the Congress Party has been established in the Justice Loya death case. It is an attempt to intimidate a Judge and send a message to other Judges, that if you don’t agree with us, fifty MP’s are enough for a revenge action. The charges read out are issues those which have been settled by judicial orders or by precedent. Some issues are stale, trivial and have nothing to do with judicial functions”, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
The opposition parties also came under attack from former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. "There is no reason why he (CJI Dipak Misra) should not continue. Leave it to him. Otherwise you (parties) can keep moving motions and say you cannot continue," Soli Sorabjee said.
There are also the reports that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, senior Congress leaders and former union ministers P Chidambaram and Salman Khurshid have not signed the petition.
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