Days after seven opposition parties gave a notice for the impeachment of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra, the Congress said on Sunday he “should consider recusing himself” from performing judicial and administrative work till the allegations of misconduct against him were cleared.
M Venkaiah Naidu, rejected the impeachment notice. They said if the Upper House chairman did not find merit in the notice for the impeachment, the decision could call for a judicial review.
Sources in Naidu's office said the Rajya Sabha chairman set in motion the process of consultation on Sunday evening. “Naidu rescheduled his tour outside Delhi and returned to the city as some of those he wanted to consult conveyed their availability on Sunday,” sources said. Naidu spoke with former secretary general of the Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap, former law secretary Sanjay Singh, and senior officials of the Rajya Sabha secretariat. Retired Supreme Court judge Sudarshan Reddy is also set to meet Naidu.
Meanwhile, The Congress also attacked the BJP for coming out in "defence" of the CJI and said the ruling party was compromising the position and office of the chief justice as the neutral arbitrator and head of the judiciary and doing great a disservice to the independence of the judicial system.
“The CJI must come out and tell the BJP not to politicise his office," Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said. He said the CJI did not belong to any political party and questioned why he had to be defended by members and ministers of the ruling BJP.
“Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. And that's why we left it to his (CJI) conscience. If his own conduct is under a cloud, should he not consider recusing himself from performing judicial and administrative duties and submit himself to the inquiry so that the high office and his individual integrity are cleared?” Surjewala asked.
Attacking the BJP over the issue, another Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Vivek Tankha wondered how the BJP could relate the CJI to Odisha. He is the chief justice of the entire nation and belongs to the entire country, Tankha said.
The Congress also hoped that the decision on the impeachment notice would be taken soon. "He (the Rajya Sabha chairman) cannot sit on it indefinitely, though there is no deadline laid out in the Constitution," a legal expert said, pointing to the anti-defection law where the court had said it should be decided within a "reasonable" time frame.
Meanwhile, an official in Parliament stressed that making public the contents of a notice before it was admitted violated parliamentary rules.
"A notice for raising a matter in the House should not be given publicity by any member or other person until it has been admitted by the chairman and circulated by members. A member should not raise the issue of a notice given by him and pending consideration of the chairman," according to Rule 2.2 of Parliamentary Customs and Conventions in the handbook.
The notice has been referred by Naidu to Rajya Sabha Secretariat officials, who are preparing the file and have identified this violation, the official said.
According to the senior official in Parliament, a bulletin issued by the Rajya Sabha on December 8, 2017, reiterates the rule under parliamentary customs and conventions.