Views of experts on Notice for Removal of CJI

RSTV Bureau

Following are the views of the top legal and constitutional experts on the Notice for Remocal of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra prior to the order of Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu. The notice was moved by Congress and six opposition parties last week.

Fali Nariman: A horribly black day in the history of the supreme court and will not only diminish the public’s faith in the judiciary, but will open the door for the ruling party to move against a judge it doesn’t like a particular judgment. He added this a horribly black day- the blackest possible day.

“…you have to have cogent evidence, you have to have something to prove”. He said it was imperative to have extraordinarily important grounds to impeach the Chief Justice because the final interpreters of the constitution is the judiciary and not parliament. Bringing forth such charges against the Chief Justice amounts to destroying the constitution.

Impeachment move ‘unfortunate’, says former CJI TS Thakur: It wasn’t just the ruling BJP that criticised the section of the Opposition that moved the impeachment notice. Commenting on the motion against CJI Misra, Former Chief Justice of India TS Thakur said that the situation was “unfortunate”.

While refusing to go into the details, former CJI Thakur told news agencies: “This is very unfortunate that the top judiciary is faced with such crisis.”

Former Supreme Court judge B Sudershan Reddy calls impeachment move ‘suicidal': Former Supreme Court Judge B Sudershan Reddy went further in terming the impeachment move “suicidal and dangerous”. Pointing out that he found no substance in the charges, Reddy told news agencies that “it is suicidal on part of the political parties which have moved the impeachment motion”. Prima facie, he claimed, “there is no material to establish the charge of any misbehaviour on part of the Chief Justice”, adding that “irregularities do not amount to misbehaviour”.

Justice Reddy said that the impeachment move had a definite political coating and that it can’t be otherwise. “Any impeachment motion is definitely political in its nature. In any impeachment proceedings politics can’t be avoided,” he said, adding, “But in the present case, they are dragging — may be unintentionally — the judiciary into party politics, which is dangerous.”

Former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash Kashyap calls it ‘pure party politics': Former Lok Sabha Secretary General Subhash C Kashyap described the move as “pure party politics”. Further, Kashyap contended that under the Constitution, only the President can be impeached and Article 124 only speaks about the removal of a judge for misconduct or proven incapacity. “There is nothing like impeachment of a Judge (in the Constituion),” he said.

Kashyap, an authority on parliamentary rules and procedures, said that the impeachment move is “not likely to succeed at all”.

“It is purely party politics. The purpose seems to be to embarrass the judiciary and the government — the party in power. It is not likely to pass (muster) at all,” the former Lok Sabha Secretary General said. Kashyap said that Rajya Sabha Chairman Naidu could reject the impeachment notice at his own level if he felt it had no material legs to stand on.

High Court judge Justice RS Sodhi says Congress has committed ‘hara-kiri': Former Delhi High Court judge and a practicing senior counsel in the Supreme Court, R S Sodhi, described the impeachment notice as “the most immature move” the Congress had committed in its history. Justice Sodhi went on to say, “I am sorry that the Grand Old Party has committed hara-kiri.” He added that the move betrays logic.

He also said that the Congress had targeted the judiciary — the only organ of the state that has credibility — and it would hurt the country.

Supreme Court judge Justice J Chelameswar says impeachment no panacea to judiciary’s problems: Justice J Chelameswar — one of the four senior-most Supreme Court Judges who went public on January 12 with their grievances over the top court’s functioning — said that impeachment was not an answer for every problem in the higher judiciary. “I do not know why the nation is obsessed with impeachment. Impeachment can’t be an answer to everything. There have to be other mechanisms in place to deal with such problems,” Justice Chelameswar had said.

‘I am totally against’ impeachment move, says Soli Sorabjee: Sorabjee, who was attorney general during the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, made a scathing attack on the Opposition’s decision to proceed with the impeachment motion against the CJI, saying, “This is the worst that could happen to the independence of the judiciary.” He also said that Friday’s event would shake the confidence and faith of the people in the judiciary.

Terming it a sorry state of affairs, Sorabjee told a TV channel that there was no ground to impeach the CJI and that the judiciary should sort out its problems itself without allowing politicians to get into them.

“…Please don’t affect the public faith in the judiciary,” he said. Coming out in support of Justice Misra, Sorabjee said a judge cannot be impeached merely because of an error of judgement. “The chief justice is not above the law. He can be impeached but on what ground? If you start an impeachment motion against the CJI on the ground that a certain order of his is wrong, then the very independence of judiciary will be at stake. You are dealing with the chief justice. There should be solid, cogent, substantial grounds for doing so,” he said.

“If you don’t agree with an order, you impeach him? This has set a very bad precedent and I am totally against it. I am very distressed that it happened in our country,” the former AG said.

On the issue of allocation of benches by the Chief Justice, Sorabjee said, “After all, he is the master of the roster. He knows which case should be sent to which Bench. I don’t understand how any judge can say that certain cases should be allocated to me or us unless you find there is a definite policy.”

Justice SN Dhingra says impeachment move aimed at gaining ‘political mileage': Justice Dhingra, who shared Sorabjee’s views, said that the impeachment notice is an attempt to gain political mileage.

Referring to the controversial January 12 press meet by four senior-most Supreme Court judges — J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, MB Lokur, and Kurian Joseph — who raised issues that were reflected in the impeachment notice, he said that discontent among the judges of the top court did not justify the move. “The impeachment notice is motivated and the MPs want political mileage knowing that they do not have the numbers to impeach the chief justice. Discontentment among judges does not mean you initiate the process of impeachment. Discontentment is a part of life,” the former judge said.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh says allegations against CJI do not merit impeachment: Senior lawyer Vikas Singh said that the allegations levelled against CJI Misra were not serious enough to impeach him. “It is a sad day as it comes a day after the judge Loya judgement delivered by the Supreme Court. There are not even serious allegations, still the notice has been moved. It is dangerous as such frivolous motions can be carried out if they (MPs) had the numbers to impeach a judge,” he had said on Friday.

Justice Ajit Kumar Sinha says impeachment move is all about judge Loya verdict: Commenting on the Opposition’s impeachment notice, Justice Sinha said, “The issues have been going on for the last one-two months and got revived yesterday (Thursday) with the judgement of the apex court in judge Loya matter. This (impeachment move) prima facie appears to be a reaction by the people, who want to impeach the judge, because of yesterday’s verdict.”

ASG Satya Pal Jain says impeachment notice against CJI is politically motivated: The impeachment notice moved by Congress and other Opposition parties against CJI Misra is politically motivated, Additional Solicitor General Satya Pal Jain said on Saturday. “Unfortunate and politically motivated and seems to be an attempt to intimidate judiciary and give message that if you don’t decide on cases as per our wishes, we’ll indulge in character assassination of judges,” Jain said.

Senior Supreme court advocate Rakesh Dwivedi: The motion is ill advised and founded on baseless charges. The purpose is to compel Chief Justice of India to recuse….this is not an impeachment motion but a recusal motion.

It was a Congress government who appointed him in 1996 and then as Chief Justice of Patna High Court in December, 2009 and again as Chief Justice of Delhi High Court in May 2010, and finally to the Supreme Court on October 10, 2011.

That shows Congress did not attach any weight or worth to the charge. Two other charges relate to intra-court functioning and assignment of cases.

One wonders what consequences would flow if BJP MPs move a motion against the four judges who gave vent to their grievances against the CJI’s rostering without consulting other brother judges. Political parties must not fish in internecine conflicts in the judiciary.

Former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar says Impeachment is an extreme remedy: Former Union Minister Ashwani Kumar said moving an impeachment motion against Chief Justice of India (CJI) was an extreme remedy. He argued that it could have been avoided.

Harish Salve, Lawyer and former Solicitor General, -“This was an accident waiting to happen. The Constitution makers were dreamers. They dreamed of a beautiful democracy, dreamed of leaders.” But this is not the case in today’s politics, he said. “Today’s politics is about numbers. Today is a questionable day for democracy.” “This is race downhill now.”