Opposition move to impeach CJI, Jaitley calls it 'revenge petition'

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Mr Jaitley wrote the post after Congress-led seven opposition parties gave notice of impeachment of Justice Deepak Mishra to Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu.

The unprecedented move by the Congress-led opposition to impeach Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra "smacked of political overtones" rather than any "misbehavior" and "misuse" of authority and might not succeed in Parliament, constitutional experts felt today.

The move comes in the wake of the latest supreme court judgment, which dismissed the demand for an investigation into the death of CBI judge BH Loya.

An impeachment motion in the Rajya Sabha has to be supported by at least 50 MPs of the Upper House, while the number of MPs supporting such a motion in the Lok Sabha is 100.

Justice P D Dinakaran, the then Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court, also faced the ignominy of being impeached after the inquiry panel had found enough prima facie materials relating to charges of land-grab, corruption and abuse of judicial office against him.

This is for the first time in the country's history that the opposition parties have moved an impeachment motion.

"We were hoping that the anguish of the judges as reflected in their statements to the press would be addressed", senior Congress party leader Kapil Sibal, a senior lawyer himself, told reporters. President Ram Nath Kovind with Chief Justice Dipak Misra.

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But the move has divided not just the Opposition ranks but also the Congress. The "Institution Disrupters" have now become spokespersons of the Judge Loya death case falsehood, " he wrote. Interestingly, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was not one of the signatories to the impeachment notice. "Does this impeachment set a precedent that political parties in India will use impeachment as an instrument to intimidate judges hearing controversial matters?"

Sibal said the allegations against the CJI can not be ignored and if the notice for the impeachment motion is accepted "then as per convention, he has to refrain from discharging his judicial functions".

The Opposition parties at a hurriedly called Press conference announced and cited reasons for the impeachment motion.

It is also interesting to note that all the previous three impeachment motions have been moved when Congress was in power at the Centre. Impeachment can be done only on some actions of a judge amounting to misbehaviour and not for judgements which could be right or wrong.

Sibal said, "When SC judges themselves believe", the judiciary's independence is under threat, "alluding to the functioning of the CJI, should we stand still and do nothing".

It was not hard to collect 50 signatures of the Rajya Sabha or hundred signatures of the Lok Sabha members even on frivolous issues, he said, referring to the 71 MPs who signed the impeachment motion. "Since the day he (Dipak Misra) was appointed as CJI there have been questions raised in the manner in which he has dealt with certain cases", he said. "The power is exercised in case of proven misconduct", Jaitley said.