After Vice President Venkaiah Naidu controversially rejected the removal motion against CJI Dipak Misra, two Rajya Sabha MPs from Congress party moved the Supreme Court challenging the former’s decision.
The petitioner MPs, Pratap Singh Bajwa and Amee Harshadray Yajnik, from Punjab and Gujarat respectively, in their joint petition said that once a removal motion was signed by the requisite number of MPs the RS chairman had no option but to constitute an inquiry committee to investigate the charges against the CJI.
“The removal motion was signed by more than 50 MPs, which is what is constitutionally required, and yet Naidu rejected it,” they said.
The MPs also raised their doubts on the consultation process undertaken by the Rajya Sabha speaker saying that the notice of the motion was given on 20 April and it was rejected on 23 April, during which period Naidu was mostly outside Delhi on vice-presidential engagements.
The MPs then sought a direction from the Supreme Court to Naidu to immediately constitute an inquiry committee under the Judges Inquiry Act to probe the charges against CJI Dipak Misra mentioned in the removal motion.
On 20 April, as many as 64 MPs belonging to seven political parties, including Congress, NCP, CPM, CPI, SP, BSP and Muslim League, had signed the notice for removal proceedings against Misra. The five grounds mentioned for his removal were as follows:
1.”Conspiracy to pay illegal gratification” in the Prasad Education Trust case and the denial of permission to proceed against a retired high court judge in the same matter.
- The CJI allegedly listed the petition against the Prasad Education Trust before himself, even when he was heading the Constitution bench, which is against the convention.
- “Antedating” (backdating) of an order for listing of a petition related to the investigation against the Prasad Education Trust in the Supreme Court.
- Misra allegedly acquired a piece of land by giving a “false affidavit” while he was an advocate. The plot was surrendered in 2012 when he was elevated to the Supreme Court, even though orders cancelling the allotment were given in 1985.
- 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.
On 23 April, Naidu rejected the Congress-led opposition parties’ notice to remove the CJI saying it lacked substantial merit.
“Having considered the material contained in the notice of motion and reflected upon the inputs received in my interaction with legal luminaries and constitutional experts, I am of the firm opinion that the notice of the motion does not deserve to be admitted. Accordingly I refuse to admit notice of motion,” said Naidu.
“I have applied my mind to all five charges made out in impeachment motion and examined all annexed documents. All facts as stated in motion don’t make out a case which can lead any reasonable mind to conclude that CJI on these facts can be ever held guilty of misbehavior,” said Naidu further.