The Congress-led Opposition's move to impeach Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra has been described as "unfortunate", "suicidal", and "dangerous" by several legal luminaries, including Former Chief Justice of India T S Thakur and former Delhi High Court Judge R S Sodhi. Further, constitutional experts feel the move to impeach CJI Misra "smacked of political overtones" rather than any "misbehaviour" and "misuse" of authority and might not succeed in Parliament. Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu, who is examining the impeachment notice against CJI Misra, is learnt to have asked the Secretariat of the Upper House of Parliament to see if there is a precedent on Opposition members giving out details of such a motion to the media before it is examined.
The Congress-led Opposition, for its part, faced flak for revealing contents of the impeachment notice. Officials said on Saturday that making the content of a notice public before it is admitted by the chair was in violation of parliamentary rules. The statement came after opposition parties, led by the Congress, on Friday held a press conference where they levelled five specific allegations related to their impeachment notice before the media. The Congress, however, was not cowed by the ruling party's charges and on Saturday, it hit back at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over his remarks that the impeachment move was a "revenge petition". The Congress responded, saying that it is important to be "right" instead of being on the "right side of powers".
Levelling allegations against CJI Misra, leaders of the seven opposition parties met Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday and handed over the notice of impeachment bearing signatures of 64 Members of Parliament (MPs) and seven former MPs who recently retired. The move came a day after an apex court Bench headed by the CJI rejected all the pleas seeking an independent probe into the death of special CBI judge B H Loya, who was presiding over the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case that had involved BJP President Amit Shah. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P Chidambaram are not among the signatories to the impeachment motion notice.
Here are the top ten developments around the Congress-led Opposition's move to impeach Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra:
1) Impeachment move 'unfortunate', says former CJI T S Thakur: It wasn't just the ruling BJP that criticised the section of the Opposition that moved the impeachment notice. Commenting on the motion against CJI Misra, Former Chief Justice of India T S Thakur said that the situation was "unfortunate".
While refusing to go into the details, former CJI Thakur told news agencies: "This is very unfortunate that the top judiciary is faced with such crisis."
2) Former SC judge B Sudershan Reddy calls impeachment move 'suicidal': Former Supreme Court Judge B Sudershan Reddy went further in terming the impeachment move "suicidal and dangerous". Pointing out that he found no substance in the charges, Reddy told news agencies that "it is suicidal on part of the political parties which have moved the impeachment motion". Prima facie, he claimed, "there is no material to establish the charge of any misbehaviour on part of the Chief Justice", adding that "irregularities do not amount to misbehaviour".
Justice Reddy said that the impeachment move had a definite political coating and that it can't be otherwise. "Any impeachment motion is definitely political in its nature. In any impeachment proceedings politics can't be avoided," he said, adding, "But in the present case, they are dragging -- may be unintentionally -- the judiciary into party politics, which is dangerous."
Read our previous developments copy on the Opposition's impeachment notice against CJI Dipak Misra: CJI Misra impeachment: Rijiju says Congress doesn't trust army, CJI, SC, EC
3) Former Lok Sabha Secretary General calls it 'pure party politics': Former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap described the move as "pure party politics". Further, Kashyap contended that under the Constitution, only the President can be impeached and Article 124 only speaks about the removal of a judge for misconduct or proven incapacity. "There is nothing like impeachment of a Judge (in the Constituion)," he said.
Kashyap, an authority on parliamentary rules and procedures, said that the impeachment move is "not likely to succeed at all".
"It is purely party politics. The purpose seems to be to embarrass the judiciary and the government -- the party in power. It is not likely to pass (muster) at all," the former Lok Sabha Secretary General said. Kashyap said that Rajya Sabha Chairman Naidu could reject the impeachment notice at his own level if he felt it had no material legs to stand on.
Read our copy on how the impeachment motion took shape and reached V-P Naidu's office on Friday: Impeachment motion against CJI: Manmohan refrains; TMC, DMK demand proof
4) Justice Sodhi says Congress has committed 'hara-kiri': Former Delhi High Court judge and a practicing senior counsel in the Supreme Court, R S Sodhi, described the impeachment notice as "the most immature move" the Congress had committed in its history. Justice Sodhi went on to say, "I am sorry that the Grand Old Party has committed hara-kiri." He added that the move betrays logic.
He also said that the Congress had targeted the judiciary -- the only organ of the state that has credibility -- and it would hurt the country.
5) Justice Chelameswar says impeachment no panacea to judiciary's problems: Justice J Chelameswar -- one of the four senior-most Supreme Court Judges who went public on January 12 with their grievances over the top court's functioning -- said that impeachment was not an answer for every problem in the higher judiciary. "I do not know why the nation is obsessed with impeachment. Impeachment can't be an answer to everything. There have to be other mechanisms in place to deal with such problems," Justice Chelameswar had said.
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6) 'I am totally against' impeachment move, says Soli Sorabjee: The impeachment notice was termed as "motivated" and "political" by eminent jurists such as Soli Sorabjee, former high court judges S N Dhingra and Ajit Kumar Sinha, and senior advocate Vikas Singh. Sorabjee, who was attorney general during the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made a scathing attack on the Opposition's decision to proceed with the impeachment motion against the CJI, saying, "This is the worst that could happen to the independence of the judiciary." He also said that Friday's event would shake the confidence and faith of the people in the judiciary.
Terming it a sorry state of affairs, Sorabjee told a TV channel that there was no ground to impeach the CJI and that the judiciary should sort out its problems itself without allowing politicians to get into them. "...Please don't affect the public faith in the judiciary," he said. Coming out in support of Justice Misra, Sorabjee said a judge cannot be impeached merely because of an error of judgement. "The chief justice is not above the law. He can be impeached but on what ground? If you start an impeachment motion against the CJI on the ground that a certain order of his is wrong, then the very independence of judiciary will be at stake. You are dealing with the chief justice. There should be solid, cogent, substantial grounds for doing so," he said.
"If you don't agree with an order, you impeach him? This has set a very bad precedent and I am totally against it. I am very distressed that it happened in our country," the former AG said.
On the issue of allocation of Benches by the CJI, Sorabjee said, "After all, he is the master of the roster. He knows which case should be sent to which Bench. I don't understand how any judge can say that certain cases should be allocated to me or us unless you find there is a definite policy."
ALSO READ: How to impeach or not to impeach CJI Dipak Misra was the question
7) Justice Dhingra says impeachment move aimed at gaining 'political mileage': Justice Dhingra, who shared Sorabjee's views, said that the impeachment notice is an attempt to gain political mileage. Referring to the controversial January 12 press meet by four senior-most Supreme Court judges -- J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, M B Lokur, and Kurian Joseph -- who raised issues that were reflected in the impeachment notice, he said that discontent among the judges of the top court did not justify the move. "The impeachment notice is motivated and the MPs want political mileage knowing that they do not have the numbers to impeach the chief justice. Discontentment among judges does not mean you initiate the process of impeachment. Discontentment is a part of life," the former judge said.
ALSO READ: CJI impeachment can't answer all problems in judiciary: Justice Chelameswar
8) Vikas Singh says allegations against CJI do not merit impeachment: Senior lawyer Vikas Singh said that the allegations levelled against CJI Misra were not serious enough to impeach him. "It is a sad day as it comes a day after the judge Loya judgement delivered by the Supreme Court. There are not even serious allegations, still the notice has been moved. It is dangerous as such frivolous motions can be carried out if they (MPs) had the numbers to impeach a judge," he had said on Friday.
ALSO READ: Naidu 'unhappy' over publicity for impeachment motion details
9) Justice Ajit Kumar Sinha says impeachment move is all about judge Loya verdict: Commenting on the Opposition's impeachment notice, Justice Sinha said, "The issues have been going on for the last one-two months and got revived yesterday (Thursday) with the judgement of the apex court in judge Loya matter. This (impeachment move) prima facie appears to be a reaction by the people, who want to impeach the judge, because of yesterday's verdict."
ALSO READ: Opposition draws flak for revealing contents of impeachment notice
10) ASG Satya Pal Jain says impeachment notice against CJI is politically motivated: The impeachment notice moved by Congress and other Opposition parties against CJI Misra is politically motivated, Additional Solicitor General Satya Pal Jain said on Saturday. "Unfortunate and politically motivated and seems to be an attempt to intimidate judiciary and give message that if you don't decide on cases as per our wishes, we'll indulge in character assassination of judges," Jain said.
With agency inputs