Rejection of impeachment motion destroyed legitimate process of law: Sibal

Opposition's removal motion against CJI gains momentum

Venkaiah Naidu rejects impeachment notice against CJI Dipak Misra

64 lawmakers from seven Opposition parties - including the Congress - submitted the motion to the Rajya Sabha Chairman last week. At the longer than usual meeting, justice Misra and other judges agreed to set up an informal four-member team to resolve concerns.

He said the order will be challenged in the Supreme Court. "Right now, the buzzword for the Congress and their friends is 'impeachment.' The judiciary, which is an institution that is trusted by 125 crore Indians, has invited the wrath of Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in particular".

When he issued the order rejecting the impeachment motion, he said he "considered the material contained in the Notice of Motion and reflected upon the inputs received in his interaction with legal luminaries and constitutional experts". "I am of the clear opinion that all facts, as stated in the motion, read with the context of the annexed documents, do not make a case under Article 124 (4) of the Constitution which can lead any reasonable mind to conclude that the Chief Justice of India on these facts can be ever held guilty of "misbehaviour".

"I have also gone through the comments made by former attorney general, constitutional experts and editors of prominent newspapers which are unequivocal and almost unanimous that the present notice of motion before me is not a fit case for removal of judges", the vice president said in his order.

Naidu, rejecting the notice, said the members themselves were unsure of their own case. This adds another intriguing twist to the tale, as these three judges would be Justices Jasti Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi and Madan B Lokur - the three judges, who along with Justice Kurien Joseph, had held the unprecedented press conference earlier this year in which they had slammed the Chief Justice over his decision to allocate crucial cases to benches headed by "junior judges".

Divya's list included 'Bribery in Prasad Educational Trust Medical College, Appointment of CBI Special Director, An Appeal in the 2G case, Death of Judge Loya, A case involving MP Shashi Tharoor, Assets of Jay Shah, Aadhaar cases, Appointment of BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra in ONGC, Appointment of judges and A case under the Land Acquisition Act'. His order says that on "a careful analysis and reflection", he found "that there is virtually no concrete verifiable imputation".

"The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha has said that we have not been able to establish "proved misbehaviour" but how do we prove before an inquiry", asked Mr. Sibal.

Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan also criticized Venkaiah Nadu for rejecting the impeachment motion.

"To say the least, the order is unprecedented, illegal, ill-advised and hasty", Sibal said, adding that it had been passed without a full-fledged enquiry.

Making a serious charge without directly blaming anyone in particular, Sibal said: "It seems the government is very keen that this must not be allowed to be inquired into".

Senior Supreme Court advocate K T S Tulsi, however, disagreed, saying that the charges against Chief Justice Misra needed to be examined as per procedure, which was not done. Sibal argued that the order was illegal as it is for the Judges Inquiry Committee to find out if there was proved misbehaviour.

Both Houses of Parliament have to pass an "address to the president". Allegations listed in the impeachment motion included possessing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, unlawfully securing five housing board plots in the name of his wife and two daughters, entering into benami transactions and possessing land beyond the agricultural ceiling limit.

Naveen Patnaik's Biju Janata Dal may be anti-BJP, but Dipak Misra is from Odisha - and the party isn't sure how the electorate will react if it goes against him. The reason is simple math; the opposition does not have the numbers, even if they all band together. Here, the NDA has a clear, 300-plus majority.

The parties had briefed the media after handing over the notice to the Upper House chairman. And since the Chairman's order pertains to the CJI, if challenged in the top court, it is likely to be heard by judges who are next in line in terms of seniority and experience.

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