Indian Vice President cites reasons for rejecting motion to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice

Indian Vice President cites reasons for rejecting motion to impeach Supreme Court Chief Justice

New Delhi, April 23 (NDTV/Indian Express): India’s Vice-President and chairman of the Upper House of parliament, Venkaiah Naidu, has rejected the opposition’s notice for impeachment of Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra.

In his 10-page order, Naidu has dealt with every charge mentioned and claimed that the Opposition MPs were “unsure” of their own case and was based on “suspicion and conjectures.”

But the Congress, which submitted the motion had said that it would approach the Supreme Court if the Vice President rejected it.

Naidu’s order observed, “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 the same certainly does not constitute proof beyond reasonable doubt which is required to me a case of proved miss behavior under article 124 of the Constitution. Conversation between third party with dubious credentials, which have been extensively relied upon, cannot themselves constitute any material evidence against the older of the office of Chief Justice of India,” the order further stated

Naidu cited a Supreme Court order to reiterate that the CJI, as Master of Roster, was entitled to allocate cases as he deemed fit and referred it as an internal matter of the judiciary.”

Decision Taken After Consultation 

Naidu, who was in Hyderabad, cut short his visit and returned to Delhi on Sunday for consultations. He has spoken to Attorney General K.K.Venugopal, former Supreme Court judge B.Sudarshan Reddy, former Secretary General of parliament Subhash Kashyap and Law Secretary P.K.Malhotra.

The Congress, which led the opposition bid to impeach the Chief Justice, had however said that it will move the Supreme Court if the Vice President rejected the impeachment motion.

71 opposition MPs and seven parties had signed the motion which was presented to the chairman of the Upper House of parliament, the Rajya Sabha.

Not all Congress MPs had signed or even supported the impeachment motion. The non-signatories included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Finance and Home Minister P.Chidambaram and former Law Minister Ashwini Kumar.

Some felt that the move was ill-conceived as it was not based on proven wrongs but only allegations. Others felt that it would needlessly tarnish the image of the judiciary which is already internally divided. Some others said that the decision was taken without  due consultation. A number of the opponents said that  there was no point in impeaching a Chief Justice when he is to retire on October 2. The impeachment process is longwinded and time consuming.

The impeachment motion against Justice Misra has the following five allegations:

  1. The facts and circumstances relating to the Prasad Educational Trust case show prima facie evidence suggesting that Chief Justice Dipak Misra may have been involved in the conspiracy of paying illegal gratification, which at least warrants a thorough investigation.
  2. That Chief Justice Dipak Misra dealt, on the administrative as well as judicial side, with a writ petition which sought investigation into a matter in which he too was likely to fall within the scope of investigation since he had presided over every bench which had dealt with the case and passed orders in the case of Prasad Educational Trust, and thus violated the first principle of the Code of Conduct for judges.
  3. That Chief Justice Dipak Misra appears to have antedated an administrative order dated 6 November 2017, which amounts to a serious act of forgery/fabrication.
  4. That Chief Justice Dipak Misra acquired land when he was an advocate, by giving an affidavit that was found to be false and, despite the orders of the ADM cancelling the allotment in 1985, surrendered the said land only in 2012 after he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
  5. That Chief Justice Dipak Misra has abused his administrative authority as master of roster to arbitrarily assign individual cases of particular advocates in politically sensitive cases to select judges in order to achieve a predetermined outcome.

(The featured image at the top is that of Venkaiah Naidu, chairman of the Rajya Sabha and Vice President of India)