Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for two Rajya Sabha Congress MPs–Partap Singh Bajwa from Punjab and Amee Harshadray Yajnik from Gujarat– raised objections to the setting up of the five-judge bench to hear the matter. He also wanted to know who had passed the order that the matter would be heard by a constitution bench.
But Attorney General K K Venugopal pointed out that only two of the over 50 members, who had earlier moved the impeachment notice in the Upper House of Parliament, have approached the apex court.
Venugopal said two MPs from the Congress have approached the court, but there were six other opposition parties which had moved a notice of impeachment motion before Rajya Sabha chairman, which have not moved the top court.
The AG said “the presumption is that all others have not supported the stand taken by the Congress party to challenge the rejection of impeachment notice by Naidu.”
He also claimed that the two Congress MPs have not been authorised by rest of the MPs to file the petition in the apex court.
Earlier, Sibal raised a volley of questions on the setting up of the constitution bench, including who had passed the order to establish the five-judge bench to hear the matter.
He said the matter was listed before the five-judge bench through an administrative order and the Chief Justice of India cannot pass such orders in this matter. Sibal also sought for a copy of the order on setting up of the bench, saying they wanted to challenge it.
However, the bench, which also comprised Justices S A Bobde, N V Ramana, Arun Mishra and A K Goel, said it is a “piquant and unprecedented situation where CJI is a party and other four judges may also have some role” and added “we don’t know”.
The bench repeatedly asked Sibal whether any purpose would be served if the two MPs were given a copy of the administrative order passed by the CJI for setting up of the five- judge bench.
The senior advocate from the Congress party said only after getting a copy of the order could they decide whether or not to challenge it.
However, when the bench showed reluctance to accept his arguments and submissions, Sibal decided to withdrew the petition.
The two Congress MPs had yesterday moved the apex court challenging the rejection of the impeachment notice against the CJI by the Rajya Sabha Chairman, claiming that the reasons given were “wholly extraneous” and not legally tenable.
Sibal, who was one of the signatories of the impeachment notice in Rajya Sabha, had mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar, the senior-most after CJI Misra.
While Justice Chelameswar initially asked him to mention the matter before the CJI, the bench, which also comprised Justice S K Kaul, later asked Sibal and advocate Prashant Bhushan to “come back tomorrow”.
Late last evening, the matter was listed for hearing today before the five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice Sikri.
The Rajya Sabha Chairman had on April 23 rejected the notice, given by seven opposition parties led by the Congress for impeachment of the CJI on five grounds of “misbehaviour”. This was the first time that an impeachment notice was filed against a sitting CJI.
The petition filed by the MPs had alleged that the charges contained in the notice of motion were extremely serious and called for a full fledged inquiry.
(With inputs from PTI)