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  India   All India  13 Jan 2018  Govt keeps a safe distance; Opposition bid to ‘impeach’ CJI?

Govt keeps a safe distance; Opposition bid to ‘impeach’ CJI?

Published : Jan 13, 2018, 1:07 am IST
Updated : Jan 13, 2018, 1:07 am IST

The person against whom the motion is moved gets a chance to put his point forward to the committee in writing.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: Asian Age)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: Asian Age)

New Delhi: As an open rebellion broke out in the judiciary with four top Supreme Court judges levelling charges against the Chief Justice of India, the Opposition parties moved swiftly and are likely to move a “symbolic” impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra in the Rajya Sabha. The government, however, kept a safe distance and made it clear that it would not intervene in the matter.

Officially, the Congress, Trinamul Congress and the Left said the matter should be looked into, terming the charges levelled by the four judges as grave in nature. Sources said the Opposition parties are in touch with each other to explore the option of moving a motion of impeachment in the Rajya Sabha against CJI Misra. Any such motion will be symbolic in nature as the Opposition doesn’t have the two-thirds strength required for it to be passed. Also, the Opposition can move this motion in the Upper House only as it requires the signatures of only 50 members there, as against those of 100 members in the Lok Sabha.

As per precedents, it is up to the Rajya Sabha Chairman to admit the motion. After the Chairman admits the motion, it is referred to a committee of two judges and a senior advocate, who then investigate the matter. The person against whom the motion is moved gets a chance to put his point forward to the committee in writing.             

CJI Misra is due to retire in October this year. On the other side, though speculation was rife that law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday's dramatic developments, the government made it clear that it would not intervene in the matter of four senior judges saying the situation in the Supreme Court was "not in order". Minister of state for law P.P. Chaudhury said: "Our judiciary is reputed all over the world, is independent and will sort out the matter itself."

The Congress demanded a probe, saying: "What happened today was unprecedented and needed to be looked into". Lending weight to the importance of the matter, a press conference was addressed by Congress president Rahul Gandhi, where he said the points that have been raised by the four Supreme Court judges were "extremely important". He said: "They have mentioned that there is a threat to democracy. I think it is extremely serious and needs to be looked into carefully."

Interestingly, it was the first time that the Congress had raised the matter of allegations about the "mysterious" death of CBI judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. While addressing the media in the morning, the judges had mentioned the Loya case, saying it was one of the issues they had raised with CJI Misra before deciding to go public with their grievances.

Mr Gandhi said: "They (the four judges) have also made a point about Judge Loya's case. I think that also needs to be investigated properly. It needs to be examined at the highest level of the honourable Supreme Court. This type of thing has never happened before. It is unprecedented and I think all citizens who love the idea of justice... are looking at this issue closely, and I think it is important to be addressed."

Alleging interference by the Centre in the judiciary, Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said: "We are deeply anguished with the developments today about the Supreme Court. What we are getting from the statement of the four senior judges of the Supreme Court about the affairs of the court makes us really sad as citizens." She added: "Judiciary and media are pillars of democracy. Extreme interference of the Central government with the judiciary is dangerous for democracy."

A controversy, meanwhile, erupted over CPI leader D. Raja meeting Justice Chelameswar at his residence. Many questioned the meeting. National Conference's Omar Abdullah said in a tweet that Mr Raja's decision to go to the judge's house was "ill-considered", and that it "plays into the hands of those who want to discredit what the judges said/did".

Mr Raja, in his defence, said: "Have known him for a long time. When I came to know of the extraordinary step taken by him and the other judges, I thought I must meet him. Not giving it political colour. These are concerns for everybody, it's about the future of the country and of democracy."

Tags: supreme court, chief justice of india, dipak misra