The Opposition camp has been able to collect around 65 signatures 15 more than the minimum requirement to move a proposal to impeach the CJI in the House and parties such as the Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have agreed to support the move.
The Congress, the largest Opposition party, has collected signatures of its Rajya Sabha MPs to back a proposal to remove Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra but is waiting for a broader consensus within Opposition ranks on the issue, three party leaders familiar with the development said on Monday.
So, far, the Opposition camp has been able to collect around 65 signatures 15 more than the minimum requirement to move a proposal to impeach the CJI in the House and parties such as the Nationalist Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have agreed to back the move.
Last week, we gave our signatures on two sets of blank papers. The first set was for the motion of removal of CJI and the second set was for a petition on the dilution of the SC/ST act,” said a senior Congress MP from South India, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Congress’ official stance is that discussions are ongoing.
A second Congress leader, who is playing a key role in mobilizing opposition leaders to support the move, said on condition of anonymity that “More than 50 Congress MPs have signed but the Congress president (Rahul Gandhi) wants a larger Opposition consensus on the issue.”
Three prominent regional parties, Trinamool Congress, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Biju Janata Dal have so far maintained their distance from this initiative, though.
“Efforts are on to bring more parties on board,” said a Congress strategist, explaining why the notice hasn’t been submitted to the Chairman Venkaiah Naidu till Monday.
BJD has steadfastly refused to join the bandwagon against Misra, an Odiya who is also related to a senior party leader.
The Trinamool Congress has not made up its mind on the proposal which was first mooted by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. The TMC and the CPI (M) are arch rivals. “We haven’t taken a decision yet,” said Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien.
A senior DMK functionary said that the top leadership from Chennai has not approved the party’s participation. “Chennai has to clear such proposals and we haven’t heard from them so far,” he said, asking not to be identified.
Within the Congress quarters too, there was initial doubt about the merits of the move. One of the top legal brains of the party argued that Congress should not back a CPI (M) proposal and added that unlike the case of Kolkata High Court judge Soumitra Sen (who was impeached by the Rajya Sabha and resigned before the Lok Sabha could do the same), a significant consensus across party lines might not happen in the case of the CJI. The party leadership, however, finally decided to back the proposal.
Majeed Memon, a Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MP said last Wednesday : “Several Opposition MPs, including me, have signed the petition to remove the Chief Justice.”
Last week, senior advocate and leader of Swraj Abhiyan Party Prashant Bhushan met West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. A Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader confirmed that the meeting was focused exclusively on the possible motion against Misra. Bhushan was not immediately available for comment.
A senior Congress leader pointed out that the list of signs may have to be modified as some members are retiring on Tuesday and their signatures have to be removed from the list.
So far, no judge of has been removed by Parliament, though a few have faced motions for their removal over corruption charges :
Justice Soumitra Sen, former judge of Calcutta High Court.
He was held guilty of misappropriation of public funds he received in his capacity as receiver appointed by the High Court of Calcutta and misrepresenting facts about it by a committee of three judges set up by former CJI K G Balakrishnan in 2007.
A year later, Justice Balakrishnan recommended his removal to the PM, after which a legal opinion obtained by the law ministry endorsed the judges’ committee report.
In 2009, 58 MPs of the Rajya Sabha moved a motion for Justice Sen’s removal.
The report of the three-member committee, placed in both Houses of Parliament, said Justice Sen was ‘guilty of misbehaviour’.
The report said the oral and documentary evidence had established that two separate accounts were opened by Justice Sen as “receiver” in his own name and Rs 33, 22, 800 were deposited between March 1993 and May 1995.
The motion for removal was moved in the Rajya Sabha and debated upon. On August 18, 2011, Rajya Sabha passed the motion for removal by overwhelming majority of 189 votes in favour and 17 against.
Ahead of the motion for removal against him in the Lok Sabha in September 2011, he resigned. Later, Lok Sabha decided to drop the proceedings against him because he had resigned.
Justice V. Ramaswami, former chief justice of Punjab and Haryana court, judge in SC.
Following media reports about his ostentatious expenditure on his official residence during his tenure as a Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana, Supreme Court Bar Association passed a resolution calling for his removal. Bharatiya Janata Party and Left parties submitted a notice of motion to Parliament seeking his removal from office.
A committee found Ramaswami guilty of 11 out of 14 charges.
The removal motion was placed for debate and voting on May 10, 1993. Of 401 members present that day, there were 196 votes for impeachment and no votes against and 205 abstentions by ruling Congress and its allies. The motion which required not less than two third majority of the total number of members present in both houses of the Parliament and an absolute majority of its total membership thus failed to pass.
Justice P D Dinakaran, former chief Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court.
Justice Dinakaran also faced a move to remove him. In September 2009, allegations were made against Dinakaran by several members of the Bar Council of India stating that he had huge assets and land in Tamil Nadu. They wrote a letter to then President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Law Minister to intervene in this matter.
The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha admitted a motion seeking his removal on charges of corruption and abuse of his judicial office.
Facing removal, he resigned from the post of Sikkim high court Chief Justice on July 29, 2011 expressing “lack of faith and confidence” in the three-member inquiry Committee probing charges against him.
On August 4, 2011, Justice Dinakaran wrote to the law ministry seeking to withdraw his resignation. But the ministry rejected his request. However, his resignation did manage to scuttle the probe against him as the chairman of Rajya Sabha Hamid Ansari, quietly buried the inquiry committee citing Dinakaran’s resignation in July.