Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu on April 23, 2018 rejected the impeachment notice submitted by the Opposition parties against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
Naidu rejected the notice stating that the motion lacked substantial merit and that it was based on mere suspicion, conjecture or assumption rather than factual proof. The decision comes a day after Naidu held extensive consultations with experts to determine the legality of the motion.
In a first, seven opposition parties led by the Indian National Congress had submitted a notice to the Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu on April 20 for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra on five grounds of ‘misbehavior’.
• The members of Parliament who signed the notice belong to parties including the Congress, NCP, CPI-M, CPI, SP and the BSP.
• The leaders of these parties earlier met in Parliament and gave final shape to the notice for impeachment.
• After the meeting, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad confirmed that the leaders were moving the notice for impeachment against CJI.
• Two parties - Trinamool Congress and the DMK, which were initially in favour of the impeachment against the CJI, are no longer a part of it.
• The impeachment notice comes a day after a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, dismissed petitions seeking an independent probe into the death of Judge B H Loya, who was hearing the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, stating the death to be natural and such petitions to be an attack on the Judiciary.
• Brijgopal Harkishan Loya was an Indian judge who served in a court in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, and allegedly died under unnatural circumstances on December 1, 2014 in Nagpur, 15 days before the next hearing when the verdict was supposed to be given.
• The Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case involves the death of an alleged criminal Sohrabuddin Anwarhussain Sheikh on November 26, 2005, while he was in police custody.
How is the CJI removed?
• The Constitution lays down the procedure for the removal of a judge of Supreme Court, which is applicable in the case of the Chief Justice of India as well.
• The Chief Justice of India remains in the office until the age of 65 years, unless he or she is impeached on grounds of misbehavior or incapacity.
• The procedure for the removal of a Supreme Court judge including the Chief Justice is laid down in Article 124(4) of the Constitution.
The article states, “a Judge of the Supreme Court shall not be removed from his office except by an order of the President passed after an address by each House of Parliament supported by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting has been presented to the President in the same session for such removal on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.”
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• The impeachment notice of an SC judge or CJI can be moved in either House of the Parliament. However, it should be issued by at least 50 MPs from the Rajya Sabha and 100 MPs from the Lok Sabha.
• The impeachment notice has to be handed over either to the Speaker of Lok Sabha if it is from the lower house MPs or to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha if it is from the upper house MPs. The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha is also the Vice President of India.
• Once the motion is submitted to the Speaker of Chairman, the person concerned will have to constitute a three-member committee to investigate the charges leveled against the Supreme Court judge.
• The three-member committee will consist of a senior Supreme Court judge, a High Court judge and a ‘distinguished jurist’ who has been appointed as a Supreme Court judge by the President of India.
• The three-member committee has to support the motion for it to be sent back to the House where it was introduced.
• In the House, it has to be discussed and passed with a special majority — not less than two-thirds. This means, in case of a full House, at least 364 Members should have voted for the motion in the Lok Sabha, and 164 Members in the Rajya Sabha.
• Once the motion is passed by the house it was introduced in, it has to be passed on to the other House where it again needs to be passed by special majority.
• Once it is passed by both the Houses of Parliament, then the President can be approached to remove the Chief Justice of India.
This is the first-ever time that an impeachment notice was filed against a sitting CJI. However, it is not the first time that a notice of impeachment was submitted against a sitting Supreme Court Judge.
Justice V. Ramaswami was the first judge against whom impeachment proceedings were initiated, however, the motion failed to gather the required two-thirds majority of the total members present.
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