Impeachment notice against CJI: Opposition charges hinge on may be likely & appears to be
NEW DELHI: The three main charges in the motion for removal of CJI Dipak Misra, which the Congress-led opposition parties submitted to Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu on Friday, contained surmises articulated through “may have been”, “likely to fall” and “appears to have”.
The Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, mandates that the charges in a motion for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court or high courts have to be “definite”, on the basis of which an investigation can be initiated.
The first charge in the removal motion is on the alleged medical admission scam in Prasad Education Trust case where the Congress-led parties pointed to “prima facie evidence suggesting that CJI Misra may have been involved in the conspiracy of paying illegal gratification in the case”.
The second charge related to the manner in which CJI Misra dealt with the case, first brought to the limelight by a two-judge bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar — who exceeded his jurisdiction in assigning it to a Constitution bench of the first five SC judges despite knowing that a similar matter was pending before another two-judge bench headed by Justice A K Sikri. The motion said that the CJI dealt with the case, in which “he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation”, both “on the administrative as well as judicial side”, thus violating the “first principle of the code of conduct for judges”.
The third charge in the motion said Justice Misra “appears to have” antedated an administrative order dated November 6, 2017, which amounted to a serious act of forgery/fabrication. The allegation starts with a surmise “appears to have” and goes on to make it sound like a serious misconduct.
The fourth charge referred to a nearly four-decade-old incident, when Justice Misra as an advocate had allegedly given a false affidavit to acquire land which was cancelled by the local additional district magistrate. The opposition alleged that he surrendered the land six years ago after being appointed a judge of the SC. The fifth and final charge echoed the allegation levelled in the January 12 presser by four senior SC judges — Justices Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph.
The motion said: “CJI Misra has abused his administrative authority as master of roster to arbitrarily assign individual cases of particular advocates in important politically sensitive cases to select benches in order to achieve pre-determined outcome.” Immediately after the presser on January 12, CPI veteran D Raja had met Chelameswar at his official residence and soon started a political campaign for the CJI’s removal.
Weeks later, senior advocate Kapil Sibal had a heated exchange with the CJI for adjournment of the Ayodhya case to July 2019. Later, he too joined the campaign for the CJI’s removal. At the end, the motion said: “These above-mentioned charges against CJI have brought the judiciary into disrepute. In view of these serious charges and explanatory note on each charge, it is apparent that there is sufficient prima facie evidence for initiation of impeachment (removal) proceedings against CJI Misra.”