The aggrieved Opposition parties are said to be thinking of moving the Supreme Court against the V-P’s order.
The decision of vice-president M. Venkaiah Naidu, Rajya Sabha Chairman, on Monday to reject the "notice of motion" to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, tendered by seven Opposition parties along with more than the number of needed signatures of Rajya Sabha MPs, points to the sharp partisanship in politics that we have come to see of late. It is widely felt that the decision of the Opposition parties led by the Congress to move to impeach the CJI was not called for despite the incumbent not having brought glory to the Supreme Court when judged on the yardstick of taking credible steps to maintain the independence of the judiciary in relation to the executive.
And yet, this has to be established. It can't be a matter of opinion, even of the Upper House presiding officer, to whom the motion was submitted in compliance with constitutionally laid-down procedures. According to the same procedures, an impeachment motion is to be vetted, enquired into, and checked for reliability by a committee of three legal luminaries, and not by the V-P, no matter how learned.
The "consultations" that Mr Naidu held with some well-known legal entities and others cannot be a substitute for a thorough vetting. In the circumstances, the V-P appears to have erred, possibly animated by considerations of wider politics.
The mere fact that the motion was submitted by 71 Rajya Sabha MPs (64 current MPs and seven who have recently retired, but were MPs when they signed the notice) from as many as seven Opposition parties (it wouldn't have mattered even if they'd represented a single party), it should have been considered a constitutional obligation on the V-P's part to have it enquired into in the constitutionally sanctioned manner.
In his 10-page order, Mr Naidu speaks of the "absence of credible and verifiable information". But he can't be the judge of this, at least not in this day and age. The Rajya Sabha Chairman is also unhappy that the notice of the Opposition parties contains phrases such as "may have been", "was likely", and "appears to have" - expressions which suggest to Mr Naidu that the movers of the notice are "unsure of themselves". Such an objection clearly gives the impression that the V-P is innocent of writing styles and norms. Surely, the use of such language is not an admission of anything.
The aggrieved Opposition parties are said to be thinking of moving the Supreme Court against the V-P's order. It would be a travesty if the CJI, who is sought to be impeached, hears their complaint. The next four judges in seniority who had held a press conference against the CJI should also recuse themselves. We may not have heard the last of the matter yet.