Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday refused to admit the motion for removal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, a first in India’s constitutional history.
Mr. Naidu ruled that the Opposition’s petition was based on “suspicion, conjectures and assumptions, and doesn’t constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt.”
Cong. to move court
Former Law Minister Kapil Sibal, addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters, responded by announcing that the party would challenge the “unprecedented, ill-advised and illegal order” in the Supreme Court.
Mr. Naidu, in his 10-page order, dealt with the five charges of “misbehaviour” against the CJI and noted that the Opposition was “unsure” of its own case.
“The Honorable Members of Parliament, who have presented the petition, are unsure of their own case. Page 1 of the petition uses phrases such as ‘the facts and circumstances of the Prasad Education Trust show prima facie evidence that the Chief Justice of India may have been involved in a case of illegal gratification’.”
“The motion further states with regard to the Chief Justice of India that ‘he too was likely to fall under the scope of investigation.’ It further states that the Chief Justice of India ‘appears to have ante-dated an administrative order.’ I am mentioning this fact because the language used by the Honorable members of Parliament themselves indicate a mere suspicion, conjecture or an assumption.”
“The same certainly does not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt, which is required in a case of ‘proved misbehaviour’ under Article 124 of the Constitution. Conversations between third party with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, cannot themselves constitute any material evidence against the office of Chief Justice of India.”
As for the charge of the CJI “arbitrarily assigning politically sensitive cases to select judges,” Mr. Naidu quoted a five-judge Bench order of the SC that reiterates the CJI as being ‘master of the roster.’
Mr. Naidu called it an internal “matter of the judiciary.”
The allegations emerging from the present case have a serious tendency of undermining the independence of the judiciary which is the basic tenet of the Constitution of India.
Considering the totality of facts, I am of the firm opinion that it is neither legal nor desirable or proper to admit the Notice of Motion on any of these grounds,” he said.
The decision comes just a day after Mr. Naidu consulted a host of officials including Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal and retired Supreme Court Judge Sudarshan Reddy.
Noting that MPs were discussing the motion in the media, the Vice-President observed: “This act of the members, discussing the conduct of the CJI in the press, is against propriety and parliamentary decorum as it denigrates the institution of the CJI. I am also aware that there has been a spate of statements in the press that seem to vitiate the atmosphere. I thought I should, therefore, expedite my decision and end needless speculation.”
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