The Congress party on Friday confirmed that it had moved a motion to impeach the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and claimed that it had the support of seven parties in total, as well as the signatures of 71 Rajya Sabha MPs (of which 7 have retired) for the motion that was submitted to the Chairman of the upper house, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
Addressing a news briefing of Opposition Parties, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad narrated the story of how they hadn't been able to have an appointment with the Rajya Sabha Chairman till earlier in the day as Vice President Naidu had been away in the North-East.
Azad said that the impeachment of CJI Dipak Misra had been sought on five grounds of misbehaviour ('misuse of post', said Kapil Sibal, adding that it qualifies under misbehaviour and not corruption).
"We have sought removal under Article 217 read with Article 124 of the Constitution of India", said Ghulam Nabi Azad, saying that 50 signatures were required to move the motion, which they had, and hence, he hopes that the Rajya Sabha chairman will take action.
Former UPA Law Minister Kapil Sibal then spoke, alleging that since CJI Dipak Misra was appointed to the high office, questions have been raised about the manner in which affairs have been handled. He cited 'rumblings of internal discord', buttressing his claims with the unprecedented 4 judges' press conference in January.
He said that the four senior judges have time and again tried to pursuade the CJI that things aren't in order and to take remedial measure. Sibal also claimed that the judges had expressed dissatisfaction with how the Loya case was being handled. In a matter that Ghulam Nabi Azad claimed was unrelated to today's events, the Supreme Court on Thursday had dismissed all petitions that had challenged the 'natural death' angle in the demise of Judge Loya in December 2014 and had sought a probe into the matter.
"We had hoped that the CJI would set his house in order. Three months have passed. No change. The CJI hasn't asserted the independence of judiciary in light of interference of the executive", claimed Kapil Sibal
"Should the nation stand still and do nothing? Should the people of this country allow the institution to diminish? That's what we were confronted with", Sibal said, adding that they had moved the motion with "a very heavy heart."
Saying "anyone occupying the office of CJI must have the highest standards of integrity", Sibal listed five charges against the CJI, at least three of which were in relation to a case involving the Prasad Education trust, while the fourth was over allegedly using a false affidavit to acquire land that was only surrendered in 2012 (when Justice Dipak Misra was nominated to the apex court) despite the affidavit being cancelled in 1985. The final charge was over alleged misuse of position as master of roster.
Here are the charges:
"The majesty of the law is more important than the majesty of any office", Sibal said, adding, "We hope an inquiry will be held so that truth alone triumphs."
What happens next:
If the motion is admitted, the Speaker or the Chairman of the House forms a three-member committee comprising a senior judge of the Supreme Court, a judge of the High Court and a distinguished jurist to investigate the charges. This committee would look into the alleged charges levelled against the Chief Justice of India.
Then, if the three-member committee decides to support the motion, the motion is taken up for discussion in the House where it had been introduced and must be passed by a special majority of the House. Once that happens, it moves to the other house.