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Impeachment explainer and options before Oppn if Chairman rejects motion

Article 124 of the Constitution lays down the procedure for removal of a judge of the Supreme Court, including the CJI

Archis Mohan  |  New Delhi 

Dipak Misra. Photo: ANI
File photo of Dipak Misra. Photo: ANI

* Proceedings for removal of a judge are undertaken under Article 124 of the Constitution (for the removal of a Supreme Court judge) and Article 218 (for removal of a High Court judge).

* Judges Inquiry Act, 1968, codifies the process for removal of judges.

* Judges can be removed from office through a motion adopted by Parliament on grounds of ‘proven misbehaviour or incapacity’.

* A judge can be removed only on an order from the President based on a motion passed by both Houses of Parliament.

* The Constitution does not mention the word ‘impeachment’, but the term is understood to refer to the process for removal of a SC/HC judge.

* An impeachment motion requires signatures by 100 MPs, if submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker, and 50 MPs, if submitted to the Rajya Sabha Chairman.

* On Friday, opposition parties submitted a motion with signatures of 71 MPs of the Rajya Sabha to Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

* Of the 71, 7 have retired, and the opposition requested the Chairman to ignore these names.

* The 64 MPs that have signed belong to 7 parties - the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist, or CPI (M), Communist Party of India, or CPI, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party and the Indian Union Muslim League

* Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) members had signed, but later retracted.

* Rashtriya Janata Dal didn’t sign, while Trinamool Congress was not in favour of moving the impeachment motion

* Some Congress MPs also didn’t sign. DMK, RJD and Trinamool leaders, as well as these Congress MPs, are facing court cases, mostly on charges of corruption.

* Chairman/Speaker, in consultation with constitutional experts, can reject the motion if they believe its filed on frivolous grounds.

* In this case, if the Chairman accepts, he will constitute a three-member committee comprising a chief justice of a High Court, a Supreme Court judge and an eminent jurist.


Congress leader Kapil Sibal addresses a press conference after opposition parties submitted a notice to the Vice President and Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu to initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in New Delhi on Friday. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI leader D Raja and Rajya Sabha MP KTS Tulsi are also seen (Photo: PTI)

* However, no duration is specified within which the Chairman/Speaker should decide whether they have accepted or rejected the motion.

* Opposition sources said the Chairman should decide within 15 days, which will be consistent with a court ruling on the time limit given to Speakers to decide on anti-defection cases.

* Opposition sources also said recourse to judicial review is available if the Chairman were to reject their impeachment motion, but the law is silent on this.

* In previous cases, the judge against whom an impeachment motion is moved has recused himself from hearing cases, but this isn’t codified either.

* If the CJI recuses himself, her/his functions are then handled by the ‘first puny judge’, or the senior most judge after him/her.

* The three-member committee investigates the charges

* In previous instances, the committee has taken up to two years, or even more, to give its report.

* CJI Dipak Misra is set to retire on October 2, 2018.

* If the committee finds the judge guilty of the charges, the House in which the motion was introduced, in this case Rajya Sabha, can take up the consideration of the motion.

* It needs to pass the motion by a ‘special majority’ – majority of the total membership of the House (half of 245 for Rajya Sabha) and majority of not less than two thirds members present and voting.

* Once the House in which the motion was introduced passes it with special majority, it goes to the second House, which also needs to pass it with a special majority.

* After Parliament passes the motion, an address is presented to the President for removal of the judge.

* The President then passes an order removing the judge.

First Published: Sat, April 21 2018. 01:05 IST